Zhang Lei: 50 Cent Party Roams on Internet

Chi-Leung Lee translates a Changcheng Monthly (長城月報) report on the history of the Fifty Cent Party, originally authored by Zhang Lei. Via Interlocals:

The term “net commentators” first appeared in the official website of Nanjing University. When“Xiao Beihe BBS” (“Little lily BBS”, 小百合BBS, http://bbs.nju.edu.cn/ ) announced to close down in defiance to the official order to revamp, Nanjing University launched its official BBS in the same domain. The university assigned Student Union officers and “people with strong initiatives” as net commentators and drafted them into the university’s Work-Study Programe (勤工助學體系). They were given subsidies on the basis of monthly assessment of their work.

These net commentators were to distribute materials beneficial to the university, and counter-replied to threads that contain negative information. They also filed reports to the Office of School Network Management Directorate (學校網絡管理工作領導小組辦公室) on materials that might be of the university’s concern which circulated in websites within and outside the university.

Media reports suggested that such an effective measure to channel public opinion on the internet was quickly promoted across country as an “advanced working experience”. Soon afterward, similar net commentators systems were established in various government offices and tertiary schools in Suqian, JiangXu and Quanzhoui and Fujian, etc. Commentators would speak and actively engage in hot, difficult topics of discussions as ordinary netizens in order to counter “untruthful” commentaries made by others. In case of emergency, the commentators are requested to channel the opinion on line promptly and timely, so as to safeguard “positive” perspectives, and strive to diminish “negative” influences.

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