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China Censorship Communications Government Network The Internet News

China Is Perfecting a New Method For Suppressing Dissent On the Internet (vox.com) 151

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Vox: The art of suppressing dissent has been perfected over the years by authoritarian governments. For most of human history, the solution was simple: force. Punish people severely enough when they step out of line and you deter potential protesters. But in the age of the internet and "fake news," there are easier ways to tame dissent. A new study by Gary King of Harvard University, Jennifer Pan of Stanford University, and Margaret Roberts of the University of California San Diego suggests that China is the leading innovator on this front. Their paper, titled "How the Chinese Government Fabricates Social Media Posts for Strategic Distraction, Not Engaged Argument," shows how Beijing, with the help of a massive army of government-backed internet commentators, floods the web in China with pro-regime propaganda. What's different about China's approach is the content of the propaganda. The government doesn't refute critics or defend policies; instead, it overwhelms the population with positive news (what the researchers call "cheerleading" content) in order to eclipse bad news and divert attention away from actual problems. This has allowed the Chinese government to manipulate citizens without appearing to do so. It permits just enough criticism to maintain the illusion of dissent and only acts overtly when fears of mass protest or collective action arise.
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China Is Perfecting a New Method For Suppressing Dissent On the Internet

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    George Orwell would have been proud.

    • Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Thursday August 03, 2017 @08:10AM (#54932577)

      Orwell would've been amazed at the ingenuity of people and technology and the new ways of manipulating society he never thought of. He would admit that Huxley was closer to reality than him.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        1984 - Flood everyone with so much meaningless information that nothing is relevant. Even the structure of language itself so that there are no words for concepts such as "democracy".

        Brave New World - Information is on a need to know basis, with the Alphas having access to all information and the Deltas/Epsilons living in ignorance.

    • Well that plus Shadow Banning of negative content. George Orwell really need to come out of hiding and come out with some new books. We know he isn't really dead. Just another GOVERMINT LIE. XD gg
  • Social Media in China must be hell on a slow news day
  • Living in US, my concern is the fact-checking effort from Facebook, Google, Twitter.... https://www.usatoday.com/story... [usatoday.com] It sounds good on the surface. In the end, it won't be rosy. In a democratic society, the ultimate way to prevent fabricated facts is education. However, our public education system is ...?!
    • However, our public education system is ...?!

      ...run by Democrats?

      • by Cryacin ( 657549 )
        ...run by Homer Simpson?!?
      • However, our public education system is ...?!

        ...run by Democrats?

        Seriously? The current head of the DoE is a god-bothering, slack-jawed, single-digit IQ, cuntsack of a Republican. And the Republicans have made no secret at all of wanting to destroy public education in this country in order to continue spreading unquestioning religious idiocy. So yeah... there's that.

        I don't care much for the Democrats either, but at least they see the value in a decent, secular educated population.

  • In the age where commercial journalism is driven by profit into an ever deepening cycle of selling fear, positive news is a pretty darn good thing. I am not sure how to counterbalance that with the negative news properly, but I am sure that when left fully to "market forces", news cycle is not at all balanced or fair.

    As a humorous aside, in a recent meetup in Shanghai I met a guy whose job is "social media censor". Pleasant fella, speaks good English, and assured everyone that "he's a bad censor and never a

    • In the age where commercial journalism is driven by profit into an ever deepening cycle of selling fear, positive news is a pretty darn good thing.

      You seem to be suggesting that this is a new thing. Try reading newspapers from the eighteen-nineties sometime.....

    • by fubarrr ( 884157 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @09:02AM (#54932881)

      >As a humorous aside, in a recent meetup in Shanghai I met a guy whose job is "social media censor". Pleasant fella, speaks good English, and assured everyone that "he's a bad censor and never actually suppresses any posts" :)

      It might be a surprise to some, but Chinese municipalities do recruit foreigners for work in propaganda departments quite enthusiastically

      • [citation needed]

        You can't be a foreigner and be in the Communist Party. They had a few back in the 50s, but they were all arrested and imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution for being dirty capitalist spies.

    • If he speaks good English at least one of you doesn't speak English well.
  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Thursday August 03, 2017 @08:19AM (#54932641)

    ... errrm, wait, they are already. Ok, scratch that.

    Basically we're all living in a bubble already, it's only getting bigger and thicker, and China only is ahead a little bit because they have huge amounts of expendable labour to do this sort of thing manually and are a little more on the "single party" side of things that, for instance, the US. But to think that the society of the US is any free'er than that of China (it may be for a privileged group but that's about it) is almost absurd. Same goes for the bubbling void or reality that is the intarweb and it's surroundings here in Europe. Someone at Google just has to turn a few knobs and 2 weeks in a new belief will spread throughout society. This isn't really news.

    The interesting thing is that this just emphasiszes what we all know already: The internet isn't the real world and reality in society happens where people meet in RL and interact with one another. No amount of internent communication (manipulated or otherwise) will change that.

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      It changed the U.S. presidential election. Where the rubber meets the road is the voting booth. If people are voting based on bad information, then bad candidates are elected to bad things with the public weal.

    • The internet isn't the real world and reality in society happens where people meet in RL and interact with one another. No amount of internent communication (manipulated or otherwise) will change that.

      Fortunately they invented safe spaces to prevent that. You can't let all those years of carefully manipulated student thought get destroyed too easily.

    • by ttsai ( 135075 )

      But to think that the society of the US is any free'er than that of China (it may be for a privileged group but that's about it) is almost absurd.

      This is absolutely not correct. In the US, there is indeed constant propaganda that overwhelms our senses, but there are multiple, conflicting streams from a diverse range of sources covering the entire spectrum, and many of those streams directly attack and criticize the government and specific leaders with impunity. This situation does not exist in China. The actual set of ideas that flow through the US system may not be any more true or desirable than the in the Chinese system, but the US is absolutel

  • ...the Democrats and the institutional media in the US have been playing this game for years and frankly N. Korea has essentially made the Kim family gods using this strategy. It's not really novel to blow smoke up people's asses for the gain of political power, just the methodology has gone digital for the internet age.

    • ...the Democrats and the institutional media in the US have been playing this game for years and frankly N. Korea has essentially made the Kim family gods using this strategy. It's not really novel to blow smoke up people's asses for the gain of political power, just the methodology has gone digital for the internet age.

      The Democrats don't have a monopoly on this. Just look at the White House.

      • look at the White House

        Yes, definitely - look at what inevitably happens when one side has to adopt the tactics that the other side has been so successful with for the past 40 years.

        • look at the White House

          Yes, definitely - look at what inevitably happens when one side has to adopt the tactics that the other side has been so successful with for the past 40 years.

          Overt lying, public berating of cabinet members, and belittling judges is not the modus operandi. Blaming the media for nearly everything is a pathetic cop-out. Don't like what's being reported? Then don't do it! Trump's Twitter feed (and Jr's) alone has and will continue to get him in trouble. Can't say the media made up what's comes from that.

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      ...the Democrats and the institutional media in the US have been playing this game for years

      Because the alternative media is SO much more truthful...

      • ...the Democrats and the institutional media in the US have been playing this game for years

        Because the alternative media is SO much more truthful...

        And don't forgot who invented the term "alternative facts"!

    • "The Democrats and the institutional media" is a strange way to say "Fox News."

      • "The Democrats and the institutional media" is a strange way to say "Fox News."

        Although, I heard that Fox is even getting too liberal for some, so they've gone exclusively to Hannity and Limbaugh. Oh the irony.

  • Best internet dissent suppression possible: no internet at all. And btw, NK already perfected that cheerleading strat; the Chinese are just applying it to the internet in larger numbers.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @08:31AM (#54932705)

    And insidious, too.

    Just make sure you have enough crackpots to spread bullshit about. The more insane the conspiracy theory, the better. From Chemtrails to Flat Earth, from Reptiloids to Hitler's base on the dark side of the moon, just make sure you flood everything that people could possibly use to get non-approved news with enough bullshit that nobody would want to wade through the pits of steaming shit in the vain search for tangible information.

    It is way more efficient than trying to suppress non-approved information. Because if you try to suppress it, every little bit of leaked info can be scrutinized by the people wanting to see for themselves what the world has in store for them and what really happens. But when you make sure that anything that could threaten your narrative is drowned in the noise of utter bullshit, people will not even bother trying.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If there's anything the internet has shown us, is that Fake News has been occurring ever since there was a media, and especially since the media became operating arms of weapons manufacturers.

  • I think they did all their experimenting with Marxism on Reddit to make sure it would actually work.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    > overwhelms the population with positive news

    The problem emerges is when there is no substance behind positive news. If you say the mini-plenty chocolate allowance (or whatever it's called in Orwell's english original) has been augmented to 25 grams per week, instead of the previous 30, few people will cheer.

    On the other hand, in a country where the guvmint can sincerely announce that 5 new hospitals have been built last quarter, 10 panda families saved, three more counties are getting linked by autobah

  • by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @08:46AM (#54932775)
    Look at Yelp or Glassdoor or any place that allows for "open reviewing and commenting"

    Both my apartment complex AND my company regularly spam review sites with "good newz everyone!" reviews. Like multiple 5 star ratings in a day after weeks of bad reviews.

    Even on Amazon the review system is notoriously gamed - so it shouldn't be surprising that nations have adopted the same strategies.
    You can probably even point to early newspapers that were funded by political cronies as an aspect of the same thing
    On the bright side at least the dissenting voices are being heard in China instead of the usual state-run monolithic media.
  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @08:55AM (#54932833)

    https://yro.slashdot.org/story/17/06/23/1442206/chinese-government-fabricates-social-media-posts-for-strategic-distraction-not-engaged-argument [slashdot.org]

    In contrast to prior claims, we show that the Chinese regime's strategy is to avoid arguing with skeptics of the party and the government, and to not even discuss controversial issues.

  • This is exactly the approach that the present Indian government is also using. Their intent is to use propaganda, lies and an army of trolls to control dissent, distract people from what is really happening and also to suppress any hint of an opposition.

    One of the former members of this huge paid army even released a book on it:
    http://www.amazon.in/Am-Troll-... [amazon.in]

    The Prime Minister Modi himself follows some of the worst members of this troll army who use rape threats, murder threats and whatever else against a

  • I am reminded of this passage from Neal Stephenson's novel Anathem:

    “Early in the Reticulum-thousands of years ago-it became almost useless because it was cluttered with faulty, obsolete, or downright misleading information,” Sammann said.

    “Crap, you once called it,” I reminded him.

    “Yes-a technical term. So crap filtering became important. Businesses were built around it. Some of those businesses came up with a clever plan to make more money: they poisoned the well. They began

  • "Fair and balanced" is a euphemism for state-propaganda machine!
  • It's exactly what the MNM did during the Obama administration to cover up its dozen scandals, and the exact opposite of what they are doing now to the Trump administration with fake news.

  • In other news, Trump decides what is neus (sp is correct) using the China Model [snopes.com]
    Tyrants of a feather and all that
  • Hey man, if it avoids civil unrest of a billion people it might be justified.

  • The only difference is that they use the "hate speech" smear to silence people.

  • After all, the majority of people who read comments on this site will only ever encounter paid trolls employed by US corporations, or the US government... or maybe Israel. And tons of them, at that. Weird how /. almost never has articles about American-paid trolling, when it is perhaps the most damaging variety for americans.
  • From what I see, the people of China are happier than the people in the U.S. They can't vote and they're spied on but of the two, the first is the only difference between the U.S. and China. Besides, look who got voted in as President. That's what giving the vote to idiots gets you, doesn't it? As for happy news, isn't that what every State of the Union Address in living memory has put out to the public? Forget about the crumbling infrastructure and the endless poverty across the country, let's talk about t

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