China has a legendary legion of paid Internet commentators known as “50 Cent Party ???” members. These people are allegedly paid 0.5 RMB per post to support government policies online. China also has a less publicized but possibly much larger corporate Internet trolling industry, led by PR firms who pay commentators known as “Internet ghostwriters ????”. The most famous recent corporate trolling case involved a nasty smear campaign between several of China’s biggest dairy companies.
Lest readers believe this kind of Internet trolling is primarily a Chinese innovation, I point you to the revelations (original email chain) from the Anonymous hack of HBGary. One of the email chains about a proposal to the US Chamber of Commerce details the work offered, including “Social Media Exploitation” (SME, aka Trolling):
Social media sme ($250 per hour) – experienced in social media link analysis. Personna development. Content management. Social media exploitation techniques.
$250 per hour would pay for a lot of Chinese Internet trolls.
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