Authorities’ Attempts To Bring Online Public Opinion Under Control

Efforts by local and central authorities to control information and shape public opinion on the Internet are evolving. Three cases illustrating new tactics are below. The first is an example of a preemptive strike taken by local police in Guangxi who responded to netizens’ concerns over a traffic accident almost before they were posted. The second two translations demonstrate the new confidence authorities have in utilizing a team of “Internet commentators,” or so-called Fifty Cent Party, to sway public opinion online, much like viral marketing works in the private sector around the world:

Last Monday, police in Wuzhou, Guangxi reacted to a netizen posting photos of an accident involving a police car by preemptively posting an assurance on the same BBS that the police were investigating the matter thoroughly.

The following is a translation of the cyber police note above, which was posted less than two minutes after the photos went online, translated by CDT:

The police car was confirmed to be involved in the accident. The municipal government and police department have directed the Police Inspectors’ Branch to investigate the accident on sight, ensuring that the accident will be handled fairly.

At this time, the injured person has been sent to the local Red Cross hospital for emergency care by the police; the Traffic Collision Unit of the police department will investigate the case according to legislation. Please do not speculate before the investigation has been completed.

The highest levels of the police department have declared their commitment to resolving
this issue fairly.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

In the meantime, two more pieces of evidence have emerged about different government agencies hiring “Internet commentators” (or “Fifty Cents Party”) last year, translated by CDT:

A notice regarding the formation of a team of Internet commentators in the Health Care System:
Source: Shenzhen Municipal Department of Health
Shen-Wei-Fa (2007): No. 67

A Notice of Organizing an Internet Commentator Team in the Health Care System

To: All district health bureaus, all the departments and offices in each health bureau, the Municipal People’s Hospital, the Municipal Second People’s Hospital, Beijing University Shenzhen Hospital, Municipal Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital, Municipal Health Inspection, Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Women and Children’s Hospital, and Children’s Hospital:

According to the requirements specified in the notices from the Municipal Internet Management Office, in order to strengthen management of network media, to set up a proper guidance directing public opinions, and to create a healthy social environment with harmonious relationships between doctors and patients, and among doctors, it is now decided that a team of Internet commentators will be organized in the health care system. The related matters are as follows:

1. Each unit mentioned above must recommend one person who possesses high political awareness, thinks actively, and is familiar with network application, to take up this part-time position as an Internet commentator.

2. The Internet commentators must frequently browse the forums of domestic mainstream websites and pay attention to the trends of public opinion on the network, actively post or follow-up on posts, and conscientiously comply with the relevant laws and legislation, participate in related discussions about medical treatments, health care service, and protect the image of the health care industry.
The work unit of the Internet commentator must provide full support in working conditions for the work of Internet commentators.

Each unit must correctly complete Shenzhen Internet Part-Time Internet Commentator Recommendation Form, (download the attachments), stamp with the unit’s official seal, and fax it before May 14th to 25600980 or deliver it to the Shenzhen Municipal Department of Health, Room 212.

Attachment: Shenzhen Internet Part-Time Internet Commentator Recommendation Form
May 11, 2007
(Contact person and telephone number: ZHANG, Muxiu at 25533022)

深卫发〔2007〕67号
关于组建卫生系统网络评论员队伍的通知
各区卫生局、局机关各处室、市人民医院、市第二人民医院、北大深圳医院、市中医院、市卫生监督、市疾病预防控制中心、市妇幼保健院、市儿童医院:

为加强网络媒体管理,树立正确的舆论导向,为构建和谐医患关系、医医关系营造良好的社会氛围,根据市互联网宣传管理工作领导小组的有关通知要求,现决定组建卫生系统网络评论员队伍。有关事宜如下:

一、各有关单位必须推荐1名政治觉悟高、思想活跃、熟悉网络的干部担任兼职网络评论员。

二、网络评论员要经常浏览国内主流网站的论坛,关注网络舆论动向,积极发贴或跟贴,自觉遵守相关法律法规,参与有关医疗卫生服务的评论,维护医疗卫生行业的形象。

三、网络评论员所在单位必须在工作条件上给予网络评论员大力支持。

四、各单位填好深圳市互联网兼职网评员推荐表(下载附件),加盖单位公章于5月14日前传真到25600980或送到市卫生局212房。

附件:深圳市互联网兼职网评员推荐表

          

二○○七年五月十一日

(联系人及电话:张木秀 25533022)

And this one is from Nanning city, Guangxi province:

Nan-Wei-Ban (2007) No. 35: Notice on the Organization of an Internet Commentator Team in the Health Care System, 04/09/2007

To: All the units in each bureau

According to the requirements specified in the notice of organizing a team of Internet commentators from the Municipal Department of Publicity, it is decided, after careful consideration, that an Internet commentator team in the health care system in Nanning will be organized in order to strengthen the work of guiding Internet public opinion and expand the influence of such guidance on public opinion. The related matters are presented below:

Candidate Qualifications:

Candidates for Internet commentators should possess a high degree of political and professional quality, an innovative and progressive spirit and quick response ability, a proficiency in theoretical analysis and writing, an enthusiasm in protecting the favorable image of Nanning, and a familiarity with Internet operations. The candidate selected by each unit must be able to deliver messages to the public through the Internet on behalf of his/her own unit.

Job responsibilities:

To frequently log in to “Nanning Internet Commentator Platform.” The Internet commentator must regularly log in to “Nanning Internet Commentator Platform,” to keep him- or herself up to date with the newest instructions from higher authorities, the latest job assignments or job requirements from the Municipal Department of Publicity, and the latest guidance for the proper direction of Internet public opinion.

To browse the Internet for opinions and information. The Internet commentator must frequently gather the opinions and information concerning his/her own unit from websites. The Internet commentator ought to take the initiative to provide proper guidance if there is any negative publicity on the Internet related to his/her unit, and should promptly report any serious situation to the Municipal Department of Publicity and Municipal Department of Health.

To actively participate in online theme discussion. In accordance with the job requirements made by the Municipal Department of Publicity, the Internet Commentator must gather pertinent information, complete the proper corresponding preparatory work, and actively participate in the theme discussions sponsored by the Municipal Department of Publicity on important website forums, to facilitate a warm Internet discussion environment.

To actively participate in news posts follow-up commentary and online discussion forums. Every Internet commentator must frequently log in to the well known domestic and foreign websites, such as People’s Daily, the Xinhua news network, the Tianya community, the Kaidi community, Maopu Community, the 21st Century network station, the United Morning Paper website, the Sina (Xinlang) website, the Sohu website, TOM, the Guangxi News Agency, and Nanning Time-and-Space forums, and register as a member of the above mentioned websites and actively participate in news posts follow-up comments and discussion forums. The Internet Commentator must also actively publish positive posts with depth about Nanning in relevant website forums, actively guide Internet public opinion, and counter the negative Internet posts with follow-up posts to clarify the facts on the Internet, dispel doubts, and eliminate any negative influences.

To promptly gather positive public opinion and background information on his/her unit. According to the principle of who is responsible when who is in charge, when any negative opinions about the work of his/her unit is expressed on the Internet, the commentators of this unit must promptly supply background information for positive guidance and report to the Executive Office of the Party and the Administration of the Municipal Department of Health, which will in turn summarily report to the Municipal Department of Publicity.

Recommendation Procedure:

Each unit is asked to recommend one Internet commentator on the basis of the candidate qualifications, complete the “Nanning Municipal Internet Commentator Registration Form,” and submit the form to the Executive Office of the Party and the Administration of the Municipal Department of Health before April 10th, so that all the candidates recommended can be reported to the Municipal Department of Publicity on time. Contact phone number: 2622242.

Attachment: “Nanning Municipal Internet Commentator Registration Form”

April 4, 2007

Key phrases: Health publicity, Network commentary, notice

Nanning Municipal Department of Health, Executive Office of the Party and the Administration, published on April 4, 2007. (Total 20 copies)

Copyright 2002, Guangxi Nanning Municipal Department of Health has all copyrights

Manufacturing and Design:

Nanning Municipal Health Statistics and Information Center

Guangxi Wei Hong Medicine and E-Commerce Company Limited

南卫办〔2007〕35号关于组建卫生系统网络评论员队伍的通知2007-04-09

局属各有关单位:
  为加强网上舆论引导工作,扩大网上舆论引导的影响力,根据市委宣传部关于组建网络评论员队伍的通知要求,经研究,决定组建南宁市卫生系统网络评论员队伍。现将有关事项通知如下:
  一、 推荐条件
  要求具有较高的政治素质和业务素质,有开拓进取精神和快速反应能力,具有一定的理论水平和写作能力,热心维护南宁良好形象,熟悉电脑上网操作,各单位选派的人员要能代表本单位在网上对外发布信息。
  二、 工作职责
  1、经常登陆”南宁市网络评论员工作平台”。网络评论员必须经常登陆”南宁市网络评论员工作平台”,时刻注意领会上级最新指示精神,及时了解市委宣传部最新工作安排或工作要求,掌握正确的网上舆论导向。
  2、浏览网上舆情信息。经常注意收集与本单位的网上舆情信息,凡牵涉与本单位有关的网上负面宣传,应主动做好引导,问题比较严重的要及时向市委宣传部、市卫生局报告。
  3、积极参加网上主题讨论活动。根据市委宣传部工作要求,收集有关资料,做好相应准备工作,积极参加由市委宣传部组织开展的在重点网站论坛上设置的讨论主题,营造网上舆论氛围。
  4、主动参加网上新闻跟贴和论坛讨论。每个网络评论员要经常登录人民网、新华网、天涯社区、凯迪社区、猫扑衬区、21世纪网站、联合早报网、新浪、搜狐、TOM、广西新闻网、南宁时空论坛等境内外有名网站,并注册以上网站会员,主动参与新闻跟贴和论坛讨论。在相应的网站论坛上主动发表关于南宁有一定深度的正面贴文,主动引导网上舆论,并针对网上负面贴文进行跟贴,在网上澄清事实、释疑解惑,消除负面影响。
  5、及时组织与本单位有关的正面舆论引导背景资料。根据谁主管谁负责的原则,网上一旦出现与本单位工作相关的负面言论,该部门评论员要及时提供正面引导的背景资料报市卫生局党政办公室汇总上报市委宣传部。
  三、 推荐办法
  请各单位根据条件要求推荐一名网络评论员,并填写《南宁市网络评论员登记表》,于4月10日前报市卫生局党政办公室,以便汇总上报市委宣传部。联系电话:2622242。
附件:《南宁市网络评论员登记表》

                         二00七年四月四日

主题词:卫生宣传 网络评论 通知
南宁市卫生局党政办公室 2007年4月4日印发
(共印20份)