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Shadows of Censorship? Really???

October 23rd, 2013

public opinion analystTwo weeks back, Russia Today broke a story with the title “China employs 2 million analysts to monitor web activity.”  From that, we get a plethora of dark articles about how bad the Chinese government is.  For example, from the BBC, we get an article titled “China employs two million microblog monitors state media say“:

More than two million people in China are employed by the government to monitor web activity, state media say, providing a rare glimpse into how the state tries to control the internet.

China’s hundreds of millions of web users increasingly use microblogs to criticise the state or vent anger.

Recent research suggested Chinese censors actively target social media.

The report by the Beijing News said that these monitors were not required to delete postings.

They are “strictly to gather and analyse public opinions on microblog sites and compile reports for decision-makers”, it said. It also added details about how some of these monitors work.

China rarely reveals any details concerning the scale and sophistication of its internet police force.

It is believed that the two million internet monitors are part of a huge army which the government relies on to control the internet.

The government is also to organise training classes for them for the first time from 14 to 18 October, the paper says.

But it is not clear whether the training will be for existing monitors or for new recruits.

Topics cover a wide range – from personal hobbies, health to celebrity gossip and food safety but they talso include politically sensitive issues like official corruption.

Postings deemed to be politically incorrect are routinely deleted.

From CNN, we get an article titled “China ’employs 2 million to police internet’“:

China has around two million people policing public opinion online, according to a state media report that sheds light on the country’s secretive internet surveillance operations.

Dubbed “public opinion analysts,” they work for the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda department, major Chinese news websites and commercial corporations, according to The Beijing News.

Using keyword searches, their job is to sift the millions of messages being posted on popular social media and microblogging sites such as Sina Weibo, regarded as China’s equivalent to Twitter. They then compile reports for decision makers, the report said.

The number of people monitoring internet activity to prevent criticism of the government and social unrest has been a subject of discussion for years, said David Bandurski, editor of the University of Hong Kong’s China Media Project.

“Two million sounds like a big number,” he said. “But I think it’s clear that the government will do what it takes to monitor any potential collective action on social media.”

The ranks of online censors outnumber China’s active armed forces, which total 1.5 million, according to the Ministry of National Defense.

Other articles goes along similar lines, with titles such as:

From articles sensationally suggesting the Chinese government employing two million mindless drones to monitor the web to China building an Internet army to censor its citizens, similar parroting of fear seem to have arisen in the Western internet forums, blogs, tweets, etc. – with all slamming China as a version of nineteen eighty-four on steroids.

Except if anyone bothers to read the original article, one finds that the program revealed here actually aligns more – if anything, for the lack of better words – more with democratic rather than autocratic or even censorship values.   If one bothers to read the original Beijing news article (titled “网络舆情分析师:要做的不是删帖”), one would see another example of how distorted and one-dimensional reporting about China in the West has become.

Even the original RT article, which for the most part stayed close to the facts, was not immune to slandering tones.  For example, what else can a title like “China employs 2 million analysts to monitor web activity” convey?

As the original Beijing news article made clear, the so-called “public opinion analysts” is not a government position per se.  It is a general profession that recently arose with the growth of the Internet and social media. The original Beijing News article clearly puts the 2 million in context as an overall number for an industry. The article also makes clear that the industry serves both private and government clients.  While the government is an increasingly important driver of the industry, the government is a recent comer.

The RT article in its first line stated “Two million analysts are employed by China’s state and commercial clients to monitor people’s opinions posted on social networks, state media reported. Considered a means of feedback, some such analysts report to China’s leaders daily.”  But what does “China’s state and commercial clients” mean?    In today’s atmosphere of suspicion and prejudice against everything Chinese (see, e.g., some of our posts on the U.S. prejudice against huawei), this all just feeds into the government and their cohorts are bound in a big conspiracy to carry out censorship.  But the original Beijing News article mentions nothing of the sort, in fact, it mentions the program as anti-censorship of sorts.

I mean, really, what does “China’s state and commercial clients” mean?  In the West, we have pollsters and PR firms.  We have public figures and private entities who care about reputation and opinions.  Entire industries have arisen to take polls, surveys, do “market research.”  Entire industries have also arisen to deal with public relations.  In the 2012 election, the Internet and social media became an important platform for mobilizing (or manipulating, depending on your worldview) the vote.  Yet would it be helpful if we blindly total up all pollsters, survey takers, PR firms, and social media wonks – a big number, I am sure – and label them as catering to “U.S. state and commercial clients”?

For what it’s worth, the original Beijing News article is an optimistic, positive take on a trend toward harnessing the Internet in China for a more enlightened society and more responsive government.  The article describes how people in all levels of society, government included (this is, after all, Beijing News – not unlike, say, Washington Post), to harness systematically public data.  The effort is not about private or illicit snooping or monitoring – or targeting or taking actions against individuals.  Instead it is about ferreting out important trends and big pictures from Internet forums, blogsphere, social platforms, etc. to get a better, more objective feel of what people are truly thinking, what people really care about, what things are troubling the people, etc.  Yet that very essence is lost through the translations.

All this too reminds me how often the Western media picks out quotes here and there from Sino weibo or other Internet forums to represent allegedly the typical Chinese perspective when, to me, they are clearly (intentional or not) picking out – if  not outright fabricating 1 – the most sensational, extremist quotes.

It also might explain why Western politics have been so polarized.  When the media (or anyone, actually) can pick out any quotes and spin it as the people’s voice, anything goes. It explains how sensational smear ads, campaigns, and rhetoric have come to dominate in Western elections – where the problem of high cost elections represent but the tip of the iceberg of the democratic malaise.   We are into an era where manipulating and hijacking the people’s voice is deeply and indispensably ingrained in the democratic fabric.

It should be refreshing to see attempts to gather people’s opinion in a more scientific, objective way.   Alas, since the idea started in China, it has to be distorted, politicized and caricatured in the West…

Anyways, below is my translation of the original Beijing News article.    You decide for yourself whether this story is about the shadows of censorship – or the growing vines of truer, more responsive democracy – i.e., meritocratic democracy, as we like to say here …

 

■ 点睛

  10月14日至10月18日,人民网舆情监测室将举行首期舆情分析师培训,培训包括舆情分析和研判方法、舆情危机处理与应对等8门课程。

  考试合格者将获得网络舆情分析师身份证明和从业凭证。

  收集网民观点和态度,整理成报告,递交给决策者,这就是“网络舆情分析师”。目前,全国大约有200多万人从事这一职业。

  据介绍,这些人分布在党政宣传部门、门户网站、商业公司等机构。日前,人社部就业培训技术指导中心与人民网联合启动“网络舆情分析师职业培训计划”。“网络舆情分析师”成为一项官方认可的职业。

  从业者认为,机关单位处置舆情,应该不隐瞒、不回避、不袒护,发现问题就解决问题。

■ Key points/Announcement

From October 14 – 18, Peoples’ Daily Online Public Monitoring Department will be holding a first session in public opinion analyst training.  The session will include training in public opinion analysis and assessment, public crisis management and response.  The training will include eight modules.

  Upon completion of the program, successful trainees will receive an Internet public opinion analyst identification card and certificate.

  The job of the “Internet public opinion analyst” is to collect views and attitudes of Internet users, organize them into reports, and submit them to the decision-makers. At present, there are some 200 million people engaged in this profession.

  As an introduction, these people are distributed in the party propaganda department, web portal enterprises, commercial companies and other institutions. Recently, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Employment Training Center and the People Daily Online jointly launched the “Internet public opinion analyst vocational training programs,” officially marking “Internet public opinion analyst” as a publicly recognized profession.

  According to the ethos of the new profession, the proper way to respond to public opinion is not to hide, or to evade, or to shield those in charge from potential problems, but to face and identify and then to solve promptly the problems.

新京报记者 涂重航 实习生 徐欧露 北京报道

  唐小涛工作不到半年,每天坐在电脑前,在一软件里,输入客户设定的关键词,监测和客户有关的负面舆情,并下载、上报给客户。

  单学刚是人民网舆情监测室副秘书长,他们用的舆情监测软件更加高级,后台有上千个处理器,还能监测到国外网站信息。

  河南某县网络信息中心主任闫明(化名),则不用那些监测软件,他们部门的人一早上班,就在百度贴吧、天涯、微博等网站上打上自己县城的名字,看有没有网民反映问题,整理后,全部交给县委领导。

  他们的工作都和舆情有关。所谓舆情,就是民意的综合反映。

Beijing News reporter Tu Zhong Hang,Intern Xu Ou Lu in Beijing

  Tang Xiaotao work less than half a day sitting in front of the computer. He would enter specific keywords set by the customer into a special software, monitor negative public opinion to the customer, download related information, and create and upload reports to the customer.

  Dan Xue is the Deputy Secretary-General of the Peoples’ Daily Online Public Opinion Monitoring Department. The monitoring software they use is even more advanced, running on almost a thousand processors.  The software can even be used to monitor public opinion on websites hosted outside the country.

  Yan Ming (pseudo name) is the Director of the Internet Information Center of a certain county in Henan.  People in his department do not use fancy software. Instead, every morning, people go online to Baidu forums, Tianya, and microblogging sites and search for their county’s name to see if there might be problems. They would then compile a report for the county leadership.

  The work here is all related to gathering and assessing public opinion. The goal is to come up with a comprehensive most up-to-date summary of public opinion as they exist on the Internet.

诞生背景

  微博助推,舆情汹涌

  网络舆情师,有人称他们为“网络特工”。唐小涛认为,这完全是误读。他们工作主要依赖一个软件平台,抓取网络信息。比如输入客户的公司名,软件就会显示,和这个公司有关的所有信息、评论。

  这些信息、评论如果分布在“贴吧”、“微博”、“新闻门户”、“视频”,软件会进行分类统计、排序,并能制出柱状图、线型走势图等。

  唐小涛所用的软件还能跟踪特定舆情,比如输入H7N9,软件会根据相关跟帖、转发量积分,若设定100分,当走势图达到40分,系统会预警,提醒注意该舆情的发展。

  唐小涛大学读的是水产专业,2011年,他在网站实习时就已开始接触网络舆情服务。

  人民网舆情监测室副秘书长单学刚回忆,其实在2007年,互联网作为一个独立的舆论平台开始被关注。那年发生黑砖窑和华南虎事件,网民意见沸腾。

  随后,出现网络舆情分析师,负责收集网络民意,当时主要使用百度、谷歌等搜索引擎。

  2010年,情况发生改变。那年被称为“微博元年”。微博让网民意见、观点,呈几何状,高速传播。一个人与任何一个陌生人之间的间隔不会超过六个人,有时不超过三个。

  “简单依靠搜索引擎已无法了解舆情。”新华网舆情监测分析中心主任段赛民说,网络舆情有线上网络传播,线下传统媒体互动等特点,全方位、立体传播让地方政府或者企业显得经验缺乏。

  舆情监测软件应运而生。它能抓取微博、贴吧、视频等各类形式的网络舆情,只要存在,就会被抓取。

  网易电商部分析员刘红红曾跟随中国地质大学教授安海忠,做网络信息监测模型系统。她说,监测网络信息运用的是“网络爬虫”技术,用这个技术全网搜索一个“关键词”非常简单。

  一般的舆情监测软件,包年的价格从5万元到几百万元不等。唐小涛公司所用的软件,价值300多万元。

Background:

Deny the existence of the micro-blogging community, Violent surging of negative public opinion.

  ”Internet public opinion analysts” have been referred by some as “Internet Secret Agents.” Tang Xiaotao believes this results from a complete misunderstanding. The work of the public opinion analyst involves using software that grabs public information readily available on the Internet. For example, for a company client, an analyst might enter the company name, and the software will display relevant information (such as public opinion, reputational information, etc.) relating to the company that on the Internet.

  The software will then summarize information, indicating, for example, whether the information was originally found in “Internet forums,” “micro-blogs”, “news portals”, “videos,” etc.  The software will sort and display various statistics relating to the information, in the form of histograms, charts and so on.

  The software Tang Xiaotao uses can even track public opinion relating to specific topics.  For example, one might enter “H7N9,” and the software will follow relevant threads on Internet forums.  One might set a reference traffic volume of 100 points, and if traffic reaches 40 points, the system will send off an alert, to draw the analyst’s attention to the development of potentially relevant public opinion.

  Tang Xiaotao studied Water Management in College.  In 2011, he began an internship where he came in contact with public opinion analyst work.

  Deputy Secretary-General Dan XueGang of the People’s Daily Opinion Monitor Department recalled that it was since 2007, when the Internet was recognized as a platform where public opinion can independently arise, that interest in public opinion as expressed on the Net really took off. That year, the He Zhuan Yao and Hua Nan Hu Incidents broke, and opinions on thet Net came to a boil.

  So began the demand for Internet public opinion analyst collect public opinion on the Internet. At that time, people relied primarily on using search engines such as Baidu and Google to gather opinions on the web.

  Things changed in 2010. That year began the era of “microblogging.” Microblogging allows users to spread opinions, views in an geometrically amplified and instantaneous manner. With no more than six people – sometimes no more than three – connect any two strangers in the world, microblogging became an unprecedented platform for formulating and spreading public opinion.

  According to Director of Xinhua Public Opinion Monitoring and Analysis Center Duan Bao Ming, “One cannot get a firm grasp of what the public is really thinking simply by relying on search engines.” Public opinion on the Internet is formed online, as well as offline via information broadcasted by traditional media.  The dynamism and speed by which such public opinion is formed and spread can be beyond the grasp of many local governments and business enterprises.

  It is to meet these unprecedented opportunity and challenges that Internet public opinion monitoring software came into being. Such software can crawl microblogging sites, Internet forums, video content and other various forms through which opinion is expressed on the web.  As long as the content can be crawled, the opinion can be reported and analyzed.

  NetEase Department analyst Hong Hong Zeng had followed Professor An Haizhong China University of Geosciences, making models of information flow on the Net. She said that at the foundation of information monitoring information systems is “web crawler” technology.  With such technologies, opinions on the Net can be easily searched and categorized by “keywords,” allowing other analysis to follow.

  The price of a typical Internet opinion monitoring software package  can range from five ten thousand yuan to a few million yuan. The software Tang Xiaotao software uses at his company, for example, costs over 3 million yuan (1/2 million U.S. dollar).

机构反应

  建立舆情研判机制

  唐小涛的公司也会接一些政府单子,甚至会针对某位政府领导,收集相关的网络民意。经过舆情师整理的报告,一眼就能看明白,网民的观点、大家的诉求。

  据中部某省门户网站负责人介绍,从2008年开始,政府的网络信息中心要求他们每天收集当地舆情,然后由信息中心每天上报给当地“一把手”。

  政府部门已成为网络舆情监测的重要消费者,许多政府部门设立了自己的网络舆情监测室,并有相应的编制。

Institutional response

  Establish mechanisms for assessing public opinion

  The company in which Tang Xiaotao works will also accept government projects, including projects to collect opinions relating to specific government leaders. Glancing at a report from the company, one can quickly get an up-to-date and accurate assessment of netizen’s opinions, including the perspectives and demands they hold.

  According to an employee of a portal of a Central province, from 2008 onwards, the central government’s Information Center has asked them to collect daily local public opinion, whereby the Information Center would then run stories in traditional media to help local governments as situations dictate.

  The government has become an important consumer in the Internet public opinion assessment industry.  Some government units have even set up their own Internet public opinion monitoring departments to bring in-house some of what the private industry already does.

《2010中国危机管理年度报告》指出,当年不少地方党委宣传部、地方政府应急办和一些大中型企业均建立了舆情研判机制和磋商制度。

  河南某县网络信息中心主任闫明说,他们的科室成立于2007年,归县委宣传部管。中心有四五个人,一部分搜索舆情,一部分办网站。

  闫明经常会接到推销网络监测软件的广告,试用后发现,还是手工搜索牢靠,“不会遗漏一点信息。”

  他们将县城的名字设定为关键词,每天用“百度”和“谷歌”等搜索正负面的网络信息。

  闫主任说,他们县委书记、县长对舆情没有特殊要求,凡涉及该县的网络舆情均须上报。其中包括,网民反映的有关部门不作为,城市管理弊端,基层干部不正之风,侵犯老百姓利益的行为等。

  上报形式分三类,每周周报、每日短信报、每日书面报。

  该主任介绍,他们部门的人每天把舆情发到他手机上,他再选择一些,编好短信,发给县领导。有时舆情复杂,短信说不清楚,他就打印出完整信息,交给领导。

  每周周报是周日下午,将一周内出现的网络舆情打印出来,周一上午一上班摆在书记桌上。“周报一般20多页,也有正面信息。”

《2010 China Crisis Management Annual Report》provides that in 2010, several local Party Committee Propaganda Departments, local government emergency management offices and large and medium-sized enterprises have established a system for sharing, cross-consulting and assessing public opinion.

  Director of the Internet Information Center of a certain county in He Nan, Yan Ming, said that their department was founded in 2007, under the management of the county propaganda department. The center employs four or five people, with some involved in monitoring public opinion, while others in running the official website.

  Yan Ming often receives marketing materials for Internet monitoring software.  But after much experimenting and conducting trials, he still finds manual processes to be best, “to avoid overlooking information expressed on the web.”

  They will set the name of the county seat as a keyword, then everyday with “Baidu” and “Google” collect news and opinions expressed, both positive and negative, regarding their county.

  Director Yan said that their county party secretary, county commissioner make no special requirements on their work, except that they accurately report opinions public expressed. The report should include, among others, misdeeds done by staff of the county, abuse in management of the city, irregularities within the grassroots cadre, government acts deemed as violating the interests of the common people, etc.

  Reports come in three forms: weekly reports, daily text messages, daily written reports.

  The Director described how everyday his staff would send him public sentiment texts.  He would then compile representative messages and send them to the county leaders. Sometimes the complexity of information is such that SMS does not properly capture the content.  He would then print out a complete report and send those to the leadership.

  The weekly edition of the report is completed on Sunday afternoons, and includes a complete summary of the public sentiments compiled from the prior week.  The reports will be printed and placed on the desk of the secretaries of the county leaders by Monday morning.  “The Weekly reports generally contain some 20 or so pages, and will include positive sentiments expressed as well.”

现状问题

  “要么乱说,要么不说”

  唐小涛监测网络舆情后,会出具一份报告,报告中有处理方案的建议。“我们基本不插手舆情处理,怎么处理由客户自行决定。”

  唐小涛发现,舆情师的建议通常不被重视。很多政府机构也没有学会正确处置舆情。

  今年出现H7N9禽流感疫情。唐小涛他们发现,网上的跟帖发帖显示出舆情苗头,“到了预警阶段。”他们上报后,省领导认为这种舆情再发展下去,影响不好,就决定媒体以后尽量淡化处理。

  唐小涛认为,应该让公众更具有知情权,才会避免恐慌,而不是去压制舆情。

  唐小涛说,很多政府机构要么是面对舆情时“乱说、瞎说”,最后又被网友质疑,闹得舆情越来越大;要么是一言不发,全部拒绝回应。

  例如去年“袁厉害事件”,唐小涛说,面对记者采访,很多官员不知道怎么应对,一些官员出来,说的话也不像正规回应。

  何杉是天津的一名网络舆情分析师。他说,前年抢盐事件的舆情处理就是一大失误。“老百姓对此讨论过多,导致传播量极大。应该提前预警,提前通过自己的官方账号阐明立场,避免危机出现。”

  有政府宣传部门负责监测舆情的官员告诉记者,他们也只是整理舆情报告,对舆情处置没有建议权,他们有时也认为领导的处置方法不好。

  业内还有一些声称可以全网消除负面舆情的非专业舆情分析师。这些公司声称可以全网24小时监控负面信息,然后第一时间删除。

  但是,网络信息传播非常复杂,往往删除一个帖子,还有其他很多网站转载,删不胜删。同时,发帖者看到有人删帖,还会不断再发,删帖花费了巨资,但是效果甚微。

  业内人士称,以往网络公关公司打着舆情处置的旗号,引导客户删帖。9月9日,两高出台的司法解释规定,收费删帖也是一种违法行为,从这个角度来看,在网上删帖需要冒越来越大的风险。

Current problems

  ”Either rumor mongering without basis, or silence.”

  In issuing reports of public sentiment, Tang Xiaotao will also typically issue a report on suggested courses of action. “We typically do not intervene in the public opinion process, it is at the customers’ discretion how to deal with the issues.”

  Tang Xiaotao has found however that their clients rarely pay the suggested courses of action any attention. And unfortunately, many government agencies have also not learned the proper way to deal with negative publicity.

  Consider the H7N9 bird flu case this year. Tang Xiaotao and his staff found the beginning stages public interest in the case.  When people’s interests reached certain “warning threshold,” they reported to the provincial leaders.  Because the leaders believe that further involvement of public discourse is not the proper way to deal with the crisis, they asked the media to downplay and shorten the reporting of the flu case.

  Tang Xiaotao believes we should give the public the right to know more.  This is the proper way toward avoiding panic, rather than to suppressing public opinion.

  Tang Xiaotao said that many government units in the face of negative publicity will reflectively say “rumors, nonsense”: either deadening silence, with all departments refusing to respond. But blanket denial will only lead to more questions by netizens, which will only fuel more public skepticism and protests.

  For example, last year, when the “Yuan Lihai Incident” broke, said Tang Xiaotao, when many officials are interviewed by reporters, many clearly did not know what to say.  The things some officials said clearly sounded sub-standard, non-official and out-of-place.

  He Shan is a Internet Opinion analyst in Tianjin. He said the way the government dealt with the fallout of the Fukushima is a big mistake. “The people were clearly interested in the topic, with wild rumors spreading. The government should have set advanced warning, and then provide the facts through proper official accounts early, when the crisis might have been avoided.”

  A public opinion analyst staff working in the government has told reporters that their task is to compile and report on public opinion, and not to respond to opinions found on the Net.  Not only do they not have authority to respond, they also sometimes disagree with the way the leadership responds.

  Some people claim that the entire public opinion analyst industry should be eliminated.  They think of the industry as providing 24-hour monitoring of negative information, and then jumping to delete negative sentiments at first sight.

  However, the way information is propagated on the Internet is complex and makes deletion ineffective.  One might delete a post, but before soon, the same content has already been reproduced on another site.  When a poster sees someone to be deleting posts, he will often redouble his effort to spread his message, resulting in a lot of more money to be spent just to delete those messages.  Deletion is a never-ending battle that rarely ends in victory. The effect of deletion is minimal.

  Industry sources say that recently there has been a case involving the deletion of posts by a public relations company for one of the company’s clients. On Sept 9, two high judicial rulings issued that deleting post for pay is a violation of the law.  One can see that entities that take the route of deleting posts are going to take on more and risks.
 

正确对策

  “遇问题,不回避”

  “我们要做的绝不是给客户删帖。”新华网舆情监测分析中心主任段赛民在谈到行业困境时说,舆情师应该要正确地去引导舆论。

  据一家以新闻门户网站为依托的舆情分析公司透露,与他们合作的不乏中央部委,前段时间,网上曝出某部下属单位一把手,带妻子公款出国旅游。面对这个舆情,他们出具一份详细的处置方案,建议,迅速公布真相,并责令该“一把手”辞职,以化解该部的负面形象。随后,遵照他们的建议,这则消息很快被平息。

  河南某县网络中心闫明也赞同这种做法。

  他认为处置舆情的原则是,不隐瞒不回避不袒护,发现问题就解决问题。

  当地曾发生民警打人事件,他们将舆情上报给领导,当时事件在网上已经被炒得很热。

  县领导连续做出四个处理方案。第一天发出回应称,县里对涉事民警进行停职调查,然后又发出四篇新闻通稿,最后一篇是最终的处分结果,经查证属实,将涉事民警开除。

  网络上的负面声音马上平息了。

  “即便网上的舆情有了不良影响,产生轰动效应,只要地方不袒护,大家就不会再恶炒”。这位网络中心主任说。

  对于网上的不实信息,当地的处理办法就是及时反馈。

  前段时间,有人网上反映违规建房,占地140亩,并给乡党委书记送了几十万元。但是经过调查并不属实,只是占地400平方米。

  这个舆情出来后,他们的处置办法就是,网络中心的工作人员到现场把图片全都拍照下来,把基本情况、处理通知书、违建查处通知全都照齐,拍成照片后传给网友,马上明白了事情真相。

  人民网舆情监测室副秘书长单学刚认为,各级政府的宣传部门是最需要舆情分析培训,“政府要管互联网,首先必须懂互联网”。

  新华网每月也会举行一次政企网络舆情培训班,主要针对党政领导干部和企业的高管。段赛民说,“这是一个不断提高、普及的过程。”

Proper countermeasures

  ”When problems arise, do not shy away.”

  ”We should never help our customers delete posts,” Director of Xinhua Public Opinion Monitoring and Analysis Center Duan Sai Ming said in discussing industry issues.  Public opinion analysts should instead lead and engage the public in public discussion.

  According to leaks provided by a public opinion analysis working in news portal that has no lack of government clients, some time ago, when stories exposed a leader that improperly used public funds to travel abroad with his wife, they issued the government a detailed plan to directly deal with the problem.  The plan provided for the government to quickly publish the truth, and ordered for exposed leader to resign promptly.  Subsequently, when the government followed through with recommendations, this negative publicity quickly subsided.

  Yan Ming of Henan county Internet Department also endorsed this approach.

  He believes that the proper way to manage public opinion is do not conceal, evade or shield; accurately identify problems; and address the problem face on.

  When an incident involving local police beating broke, public opinion regarding the event came to a boil on the Internet, the public opinion analysts reported what the people were thinking to the leaders.

  County leaders took four actions to address the negative publicity. The first day, the government suspended the officers involved pending an investigation.  The government then followed up with four news releases, the last one included the final verified results of the investigation, and report of the decision to expel those involved in the incident.

  Negative publicity on the Net immediately subsided.

  ”Basically, even when adverse public sentiments form, even in a sensational way, as long as the proper authorities do not evade, rumor mongering and hype will no longer spread,” The center director said.

  The best antidote to wild rumor mongering is prompt response.

  Some time ago, some stories spread online about a housing project that involved developers illegally occupying some 140 mu, and paying the township party secretary a few hundred thousand dollars in bribes. The government promptly investigated.  But after a thorough investigation the allegations turned out to be false, with project only excessively occupying 400 mi.

  When the story broke, the Internet center staff promptly came to the scene of dispute to take pictures, they released all information relating to the project, including various construction notification, and published them online so netizens can better understand the situation on the ground.

  Deputy Secretary-General Shan of the People’s Internet public opinion monitoring Department that officials in all levels of government propaganda departments are most in need of public opinion analysis training, adding “to properly manage the Internet, the government should first understand the internet.”

  Xinhua will also hold once a month training for Internet public opinion for both those who want to go into government and those who want to go into private enterprises, tailored especially for leaders in both government and private enterprises. Dui Sai Ming said, “this is an ever more sophisticated, ever popular career choice.”

Notes:

  1. compare, e.g. this story about U.S. gov’t creating fake social media accounts or this about the U.S. gov’t creating large-scale propaganda accounts)
  1. October 23rd, 2013 at 16:04 | #1

    2 million is a huge figure by any measure, bigger than the number of China’s People’s Armed Police and almost the size of PLA.

    However, no journalist have even remotely found such an individual working as web agent. Unlike Snowden or the Anna Chapman spy case, not a shred of evidence have ever been published.

  2. Black Pheonix
    October 23rd, 2013 at 18:41 | #2

    I agree with Allen.

    It was clear from many of the details in the reports that “2 million” analysts were private employees, much like Youtube employees looking for contents to take down, according to domestic laws (such as the Patriot Act).

    And let’s face it, US regularly spends money via NED and USAID to create Human rights sock puppet activists all over the world.

    That only proves the long historical need to spam filter the net against such propaganda.

  3. TheMakerzBiz
    October 24th, 2013 at 02:05 | #3

    Excellent article. It definitely is interesting to see westerners upset when America’s greatest export, the public relations firm based on scientific assessment of data, is imported by the east. There is absolutely nothing wrong with benevolent leaders, both public and private, controlling public opinion. The masses, as we all know, are at a loss without strong leadership.

    Thanks for bringing this to light!

    Here is an interesting interview with an alleged Chinese internet worker who adheres to government policy (sorry to mainlanders, this HK site is blocked in the mainland): http://cmp.hku.hk/2011/05/09/12125/

  4. Black Pheonix
    October 24th, 2013 at 06:34 | #4

    @TheMakerzBiz

    Great interview with anonymous, (is that the generic NED puppet?)

    Oh no, “There is absolutely nothing wrong with benevolent leaders, both public and private, controlling public opinion.”

    Especially when US tax payers paid for it.

  5. ersim
    October 24th, 2013 at 07:07 | #5

    @Black Pheonix
    I think TheMakerzBiz is one of those “human rights sock puppet activists” you referred the last time. LOL

  6. TheMakerzBiz
    October 24th, 2013 at 07:16 | #6

    Dude I think it was a good article. What is a generic NED puppet? I don’t understand the reference. Sorry.

    What is a human rights sock puppet?

    Propaganda, when tempered, moderate, and for national goals, is a public GOOD: http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/bernprop.html

  7. Black Pheonix
    October 24th, 2013 at 08:25 | #7

    @TheMakerzBiz

    “Propaganda, when tempered, moderate, and for national goals, is a public GOOD:”

    I think that pretty much sums up your comments.

  8. ersim
    October 24th, 2013 at 09:01 | #8

    Having read Edward Bernays’ booklet “Propaganda” says it all when it comes to “democracy” and the “public good”.

  9. TheMakerzBiz
    October 24th, 2013 at 16:49 | #9

    @Black Phoenix

    Are you saying that my comments are good? Thank you!

    @ersim

    Can you be more specific? Are you pro or con on Bernay’s “Propaganda”?

  10. October 25th, 2013 at 11:09 | #10

    Great effort on Allen’s part on the translation. Great post.

    Societies are normally not great at learning from one another, and yet all these Western press managed to do is to put up a bigger wall against legitimate ideas from out there. It’s really a shame.

    I feel a lot of this is human nature too. When you think you are at the top, you talk trash about everyone else – perhaps to make yourself feel good, exceptional. The people who feel they are behind of course are absorbing as much as they can to catch up. So, this cycle repeats.

  11. Black Pheonix
    October 26th, 2013 at 07:02 | #11

    @TheMakerzBiz

    “Are you saying that my comments are good? Thank you!”

    Are you in the habit of giving yourself compliments and then thank others for it?

    If so, there is a special corner of this forum designated for folks like you, where you can be “good” by yourself.

  12. TheMakerzBiz
    October 26th, 2013 at 20:28 | #12

    @Black Pheonix

    I am done talking to you on this thread. You don’t provide anything of value, only sneers and visceral. I will happily have discussions with the other, more mature, members of this board.

    Go do your thang, boi!

  13. Black Pheonix
    October 27th, 2013 at 07:35 | #13

    @TheMakerzBiz

    Oh, are you saying you want to go to the special corner for the “other, more mature, members”, for the “PUBLIC GOOD”??

    OK, I will be more than happy to help you go there.

    Just say the word.

  14. Sigmar
    October 27th, 2013 at 12:03 | #14

    @TheMakerzBiz
    Black Phoenix has been contributing valuable and mature insights to this thread (just look at #2). Nothing mentioned by him so far constitutes “sneers” or “visceral”. You, on the other hand, have been jumping to conclusions (just look at #9). Moreover your accusation in #12 is baseless and is both a sneer and visceral. You are advised to cease projecting, lest the mods act.

  15. October 27th, 2013 at 23:51 | #15

    @Ray

    2 million is a huge figure by any measure, bigger than the number of China’s People’s Armed Police and almost the size of PLA.

    I have some problems with this assertion.

    1. 2 million is obviously a wild guess. No sources were given for the assertion in the original article. And one might also ask: why such round number?

    2. It’s clear from the article that while the paper and the ones interviewed now considers the Internet public opinion analyst a profession, the tone of the article suggest it is not widely recognized as such. The very purpose of the article is to introduce the profession, if you will. Given the unclear nature of what the profession really is, so follows the number of 2 million…

    3. It is also clear from the article that analyzing internet opinion may just be a professional skill – not necessarily a full-time profession. What’s the number of people who knows how to use word processing…? It’s a huge number. More than 2 million for sure. But is that a lot? Does it make sense to compare it with the PLA army???

    4. Similarly, what’s the number of the people involved in public relations – in taking surveys and/or polls? No doubt, also a big number … and seasonal, too. During election years, that number can be very, very high, with huge $ spent in that area. Does it make sense in the U.S. to compare that number with the U.S. armed forces?

    5. If you must compare numbers, and you think these 2 million are government censors aka secret gov’t agents, let’s compare this number. Recently in the U.S., we find that some 1/2 million private contractors have top secret clearance to the NSA (not counting government’s own employees). China’s population is 4.3x U.S. For the same ratio, we get 2.15 million for China. So even if these are top-secret police snoopers, and even using U.S.’s conservative numbers for secret agent/snoopers, China’s numbers are merely inline with the Freedom Mecca that is the U.S.

  16. TheMakerzBiz
    October 28th, 2013 at 04:07 | #16

    @Sigmar

    In #9 I wrote:
    “@Black Phoenix
    Are you saying that my comments are good? Thank you!
    @ersim
    Can you be more specific? Are you pro or con on Bernay’s “Propaganda”?”

    How is that jumping to conclusions? I asked a question — did he like my comments? And then I asked another poster to give more information — did he/she like Bernay’s pamphlet or not. What did I do wrong? Maybe I don’t understand the rules of this forum. I would enjoy clarification, please, because what I wrote seems fully appropriate.

    As for my comments in #12, please read the prior, scornful response that Black Phoenix wrote to me in #11:
    “If so, there is a special corner of this forum designated for folks like you, where you can be “good” by yourself.”

    That’s sort of a sneer, innit? (sneer [sneer] 2. to speak or write in a manner expressive of derision or scorn.) #11 is a derisive, scornful post. Where are the mods?

    I liked the article, I enjoyed the content, and I said so. Notice #3.

  17. Black Pheonix
    October 28th, 2013 at 06:49 | #17

    @TheMakerzBiz

    “scornful response”?

    I thought it was for the “public good” that you praised so much.

    Do you have a problem with “public good” now?

    Just say the word.

  18. ersim
    October 28th, 2013 at 07:33 | #18

    @TheMakerzBiz
    When “democracy” and the “public good” is used to create a herd mentality, I’m against the idea.

  19. Black Pheonix
    October 28th, 2013 at 08:47 | #19

    More on the US military funded sock puppet program: http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/17/u-s-military-program-creates-online-sock-puppets-to-counter-%E2%80%98enemy-propaganda%E2%80%99/

    http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-operation-social-networks

    “Once developed, the software could allow US service personnel, working around the clock in one location, to respond to emerging online conversations with any number of co-ordinated messages, blogposts, chatroom posts and other interventions. Details of the contract suggest this location would be MacDill air force base near Tampa, Florida, home of US Special Operations Command.

    Centcom’s contract requires for each controller the provision of one “virtual private server” located in the United States and others appearing to be outside the US to give the impression the fake personas are real people located in different parts of the world.”

    *

    OK, I think clean up on HH will be needed soon enough.

  20. Sigmar
    October 28th, 2013 at 09:20 | #20

    @TheMakerzBiz

    You gave your thanks before receiving confirmation that your comments are good. That’s jumping into conclusions. About Black Phoenix comments, it’s not a scornful remark, it’s a warning. In fact he asked a question first, which you conveniently did not reply. Jumping to conclusions to the extent of disrupting the discussion at hand is considered as spamming here and will be severely dealt with. If you are not in the habit of giving yourself compliments and then thanking others for it, you should not feel threatened or offended. Also, I have already stated and proven that he has contributed valuable insights to the discussion at hand.

    There was nothing derisive or scornful about Black Phoenix’s statement, since he’s offering a verdict only if an afffirmative response was given to the question he asked. But I see you do not deny you have made a sneer, in responding to someone’s alleged scornful remark or otherwise. That serves as an admission of guilt. What can I say, you have been warned time and again not to project. Mods, spammer and troll reported.

  21. TheMakerzBiz
    October 29th, 2013 at 04:00 | #21

    @Sigmar

    I have not made a sneer on this thread nor this board, ever. I don’t sneer nor provide scornful commentary. I like this blog and I want to join in the conversation. Zero guilt here, you are projecting onto me. I admit no guilt because I did nothing wrong — I asked Black Phoenix for clarification.

    Here was Black Phoenix’s question in full :””Are you in the habit of giving yourself compliments and then thank others for it?””

    I didn’t think he/she was sincere or serious. Of course I am not in the habit of giving myself compliments and thanking others for it, because that’s crazy behaviour. I am not crazy. I ASKED if Black Phoenix liked my post, that’s all.

    “Jumping to conclusions to the extent of disrupting the discussion at hand is considered as spamming here”

    My conclusion was that Black Phoenix liked my post, but I asked for clarification. That’s not spamming.

    Honestly, I don’t understand why I need to be “severely” dealt with. I did nothing wrong, did not spam, and just wanted to join in the conversation. In the future, I will try to not upset the waters here. Pardon if I “spammed”.

  22. Sigmar
    October 29th, 2013 at 10:16 | #22

    @TheMakerzBiz
    “I have not made a sneer on this thread nor this board, ever. I don’t sneer nor provide scornful commentary.”
    Your statements show otherwise. Refer to #12. Black Phoenix has provided valuable commentary and is just as mature as any contributing member here.

    “I like this blog and I want to join in the conversation.”
    This blog is frequently contributed to by Black Phoenix, who you claimed is not so “mature” compared to other forumers. You have joined in the conversation with accusations and scornful remarks, something that the mods might look into.’

    “Zero guilt here, you are projecting onto me.”
    I can’t make you feel guilty. I can only show the facts that prove you are guilty on making scornful and unwarranted commentary, even if you don’t feel guilty about it.

    ”Here was Black Phoenix’s question in full :・Are you in the habit of giving yourself compliments and then thank others for it?・ ”
    Followed by a clause that can only be triggered by an affirmative answer: “IF SO, there is a special corner of this forum designated for folks like you, where you can be “good” by yourself”.” (Emphasis mine)

    ”I didn’t think he/she was sincere or serious.”
    So you made a scornful reply based on an assumption. You didn’t confirm those were his mindsets and you didn’t clarify either. That’s jumping to conclusions. See #14.

    “Of course I am not in the habit of giving myself compliments and thanking others for it, because that’s crazy behaviour.”
    Or vain behaviour.

    ”I am not crazy.”
    Strawman argument. Nobody said you are.

    ”I ASKED if Black Phoenix liked my post, that’s all.”
    Absolutely untrue. You did more than that. This is what you claimed about him immediately after that statement:
    “You don’t provide anything of value, only sneers and visceral (Proven Wrong). I will happily have discussions with the other, more mature, members of this board (Black Phoenix is just as mature as other contributing members).”

    Go do your thang, boi! (No real relevance to the thread at hand. Black Phoenix isn’t a ‘boi’)”
    Not only are your assertions false, they are also scornful.

    “My conclusion was that Black Phoenix liked my post, ”
    Earlier you didn’t think he was serious or sincere, but then you somehow concluded that he liked your post. That’s jumping to conclusions, again.

    ” but I asked for clarification”
    You did more than that. You gave your thanks before receiving confirmation that your comments are good. That’s jumping into conclusions.

    ”That’s not spamming.”
    It actually is.

    ”Honestly, I don’t understand why I need to be “severely” dealt with.”
    I am demonstrating why.

    ”I did nothing wrong, did not spam, and just wanted to join in the conversation.”
    Patently untrue.

    ”In the future, I will try to not upset the waters here.”
    There might not be a future for you in this blog.

    ”Pardon if I “spammed””
    You objectively spammed the thread with your own unwarranted conclusions and scornful remarks. The word should not be in inverted commas.

    Mods, second alert about spammer here.

  23. TheMakerzBiz
    October 30th, 2013 at 03:03 | #23

    @Sigmar

    Okay. I disagree with most of your assumptions. I will not post on this thread again. Cheers.

  24. Sigmar
    October 30th, 2013 at 09:02 | #24

    @TheMakerzBiz
    “Okay. I disagree with most of your assumptions. I will not post on this thread again. Cheers”

    Good, so I can continue presenting the facts.

    First off, I have not given assumptions. I have stated facts to prove that your assertions that Black Phoenix “don’t provide anything of value, only sneers and visceral” are totally untrue. See #12 and #14.

    Your own assertions also show themselves to be duplicitous and scornful. Again, see #12.

    These are your statements:

    “I will happily have discussions with the other, more mature, members of this board” (Black Phoenix is just as mature as other contributing members).

    “Go do your thang, boi!” (No real relevance to the thread at hand. Black Phoenix isn’t a ‘boi’)

    I have also provided facts to show you have a tendency to jump into conclusions and project your wrongdoing onto others. See #22.

    So you are the one assuming I am presenting assumptions, where in fact you are the one presenting assumptions. You are jumping into conclusions and projecting again. Your actions cannot further the discussion because they constitute spamming. You can disagree with facts, but that doesn’t take away their truth.

    Cheers.

    Mods, third alert about spammer here.

Comments are closed.