The Chinese government's comment army generates nearly half a billion comments a year on apps and social networks, doing all it can to sway opinion in favor of the party. The vast message-managing operation spans the globe, reports Paul Mozur.
The common belief that they are paid 50 cents per post leads people in China to call them the Fifty Cent Party.
A new study says those people are closer to the government than previously thought.
The study, from researchers at Harvard University, says the legions of online commenters are not all freelancers paid by the post. In fact, it says that most are government employees, preaching the principles of the Chinese Communist Party on social media while carrying out their jobs in the local tax bureau or at a county government office.
The key technique is distraction — don't rebut, change the subject — all driven by a growing belief among authorities that direct censorship is too crude and obvious.