From China Daily:
It was recently reported by China Central Television that some “online mafia” had tried to manipulate the public opinion and could “influence a court ruling” at the price of 50,000 yuan.
The phenomenon first started when some Internet companies used the Web to promote themselves while launching smear campaigns against their rivals. Then other companies followed suit, hiring Internet companies to create media events for themselves on the Net.
The situation got worse when an Internet public relations company said they could create “public opinion” at a cost of 50,000 yuan, to influence a court ruling. Such Internet companies and the many online commentators and posters behind them are called “online mafia”.