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<nettime> Two million 'internet opinion analysts'
nettime's avid reader on Thu, 3 Oct 2013 15:29:22 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Two million 'internet opinion analysts'



Two million 'internet opinion analysts' employed to monitor China's vast
online population.

Government employees trawl through blogs and social media to dissect
public opinion

Thursday, 03 October, 2013, 6:04pm
Patrick Boehler patrick.boehler {AT} scmp.com

http://www.scmp.com/news/china-insider/article/1323529/two-million-employed-monitor-chinese-public-opinion


Some two million people are employed by the Chinese government at all
levels, as well as businesses, to monitor public opinion on Chinese
social media, according to a report in Thursday’s Beijing News.

By trawling through blogs, microblog posts and social networks, these
"Internet opinion analysts," most of them government employees, dissect
public opinion on local issues and try to identify accusations of
corruption and poor governance. They keep local leadership, from county
to province, informed on a daily basis via text messages and written
reports.

The Beijing-based newspaper took advantage of a seminar for these
monitors, held in the capital in mid-October by the People’s Daily
Online Public Opinion Monitoring Centre, a think tank-like unit of the
Communist Party’s official mouthpiece, to meet these usually anonymous
local government staffers known as “online public opinion analysts”.

Even though the industry has been around for at least six years, the
Ministry of Human Resources only listed their duties earlier this month
as an official profession certified by the ministry’s China Employment
Training Technical Instruction Centre.
They use taxpayers’ money to suppress taxpayers’ voices
Online commentator

Since 2008, the People’s Daily’s think tank has advised local
governments to quicken the pace of issuing public statements and
reacting to online debate and viral political statements. In 2011, it
called on officials to react within the “four golden hours” after an
incident, such a train crash or a riot, to provide information and
prevent allegations of cover-ups.

One such analyst the Beijing News interviewed heads the public opinion
monitoring office of a county in Henan province. Every day, the man with
the pseudonym Yuan Ming would search his county’s name on Google and
Baidu, the Chinese equivalent of the international search engine.
Special software bought by the county at a cost of three million yuan
alerts his office to trending topics on social media, according to the
report.

Local Communist Party propaganda departments have for years employed
contractors, known as wumao at a reported rate of 0.5 yuan paid for
every online post, so they can monitor public opinion and counterbalance
negative voices with positive ones, as well as slander those critical of
the local or central government officials.

The certification of “public opinion monitors” has led many people
online to quip that wumao have been given proper and government jobs,
coveted by many for their job security.

“Who pays their salaries?” one person asked. “They use taxpayers’ money
to suppress taxpayers’ voices,” wrote another


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