or “五毛党” (wǔmáo dǎng)
**a follow up to “White Screen of Death”**
Apparently there is a ’50 cent party’ whose members cruise the internet, posing as normal citizens, who post on internet forums in the favor of government and The Party. For every pro-Party comment, they are allegedly paid 50 RMB cents (< $0.75).
It’s so Big Brother! Interesting that China boasts having the largest population of internet users (about 420 million), it also has the largest number of Internet Wardens and the most complex and ‘largest’ firewall (The Great Firewall of China).
The service isn’t exclusive to the government though. According to “Mercury Brief,” a news blog, for about eight thousand US dollars you can have a similar kind of online smear campaign against any of your major competitors. In a matter of two months the first few pages of sites from a search engine referring to your competitors product can be made to be dominantly negative information.
In the US, of course, the Federal Trade Commission recently (oct. 2009) produced an 81-page document on the transparency of word-of-mouth marketing. My hunch is China doesn’t pay too much attention to these types of things.