What do Hillary Clinton and the communist government of China have in common? Aside from their shared support for subverting freedom, lack of respect for human rights, and support of invasive surveillance, they both possess armies of trolls who manipulate online narratives.
According to a new report from researchers at Harvard’s Department of Government, the Chinese government employs millions of people to make posts praising government on their behalf. The internet mercenaries are deemed, collectively, “The 50 Cent Party,” because of rumors they are paid per post (the report concluded they do not appeared to be paid and most are government employees to begin with). They are believed to make 488 million posts per year.
After a blogger leaked hacked official email archives, the long-suspected program was confirmed to be real. Those leaks “reported activities of Internet commentators, including numerous 50c posts from workers claiming credit for completing their assignments, and many other communications.” The posts were often “cheerleading” for government, sometimes to “distract the public, although this activity can be also be used to distract from other events, general negativity, specific grievances, etc.” Posts that reflected positively on government made up the majority of so-called 50 centers’ activity, and the researchers theorized it “is a strategy designed to actively distract and redirect public attention from ongoing criticism, other grievances, or collective action.”
Perhaps such behavior is to be expected of an overarching communist regime, but Hillary Clinton’s internet army made headlines before China’s. As Anti-Media reported last month, the Clinton campaign has invested $1 million to fund an army of internet crusaders to challenge negative conversations about her online. That army, called “Barrier Breakers” and is a division of her organization, Correct the Record, which describes itself as “a strategic research and rapid response team designed to defend Hillary Clinton from baseless attacks.”
According to Correct the Record’s website, Barrier Breakers is intended to “serve as a resource for supporters looking for positive content and push-back to share with their online progressive communities, as well as thanking prominent supporters and committed superdelegates on social media.” (By “committed superdelegates,” perhaps they mean “paid lobbyists.”)
The project is extensive, “including the more than tripling of its digital operation to engage in online messaging both for Secretary Clinton and to push back against attackers on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and Instagram.”
It appears 50 centers and Barrier Breakers are performing the same function: creating potentially artificial perceptions that the Chinese government and Hillary Clinton, respectively, enjoy enthusiastic support (it’s likely some members of both the Chinese and Clinton social media teams do ge