Friday, June 25, 2010

China's water army and my e-cigarette post

A post I wrote on unregulated (Chinese, but really, everything is) electronic cigarettes received a lot of curiously phrased comments. I wonder if that was my first encounter with the water army (wumaodang variant)...
Blood & Treasure: water army
... Another wrinkle on the wumaodang phenomenon. Instead of the Chinese state hiring people to post favourable comments about government policy, you have shuijun, the “water army” paid by private companies to delete unfavourable comments about themselves and their products and services.

Related shakedowns include commercial websites spamming negative comments about companies in order to pressurize them into advertising on their site, and companies suing websites carrying genuine complaints on the grounds that they are faked, but basically to get them to censor themselves.
In a similar vein see Internet 2025 (very new and a classic already) and Bruce Sterling's (free) short story about post-apocalyptic astroturf - The Exterminator's Want-Ad.

China is the new California*.

* Land of the future.

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