When Beijing’s Online Propaganda Goes Awry

Engagement between government-affiliated Weibo accounts and ordinary users can sometimes produce messy results, writes expert contributor Yiyi Lu.

Yiyi Lu writes: Nowadays, China’s social media users are increasingly polarized in their ideological orientations. But several recent cases suggest that the engagement between government-affiliated Weibo accounts and ordinary users can sometimes produce messy results rather than straight propaganda victories for the state.

“When leftist and rightist social media users clash on Weibo, China’s main microblogging platform, one would expect that accounts maintained by state organs and individual cadres would lend their support to leftist users. This has indeed happened in reality, but the reality is also far more complex.”

China’s social media users are generally divided between leftists and rightists. The leftists are typically people who combine an emphasis on domestic political stability, sovereignty and national dignity with a strong belief in the leadership of the Communist Party. The rightists, meanwhile, tend to be liberals who favor democracy, rule of law and constitutionalism.

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“Often, the leftists call the rightists ‘running dogs of the Americans’ or the ‘Leading-the-Way Party’—suggesting that if China and the US were to go to war, the rightists would betray their country by helping the American army find its targets.”

Often, the leftists call the rightists “running dogs of the Americans” or the “Leading-the-Way Party”—suggesting that if China and the US were to go to war, the rightists would betray their country by helping the American army find its targets. Rightists tend to deride the leftists as members of the “Fifty-Cent Party”—implying that they are paid to post pro-government comments online—or “patriotraitors,” self-proclaimed patriots whose extreme nationalism actually harms China’s national interests.

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“Rightists tend to deride the leftists as members of the ‘Fifty-Cent Party’—implying that they are paid to post pro-government comments online—or “patriotraitors,” self-proclaimed patriots whose extreme nationalism actually harms China’s national interests.”

When leftist and rightist social media users clash on Weibo, China’s main microblogging platform, one would expect that accounts maintained by state organs and individual cadres would lend their support to leftist users. This has indeed happened in reality, but the reality is also far more complex.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

It is impossible to tell how many Chinese state organs and individual government employees are currently active on Weibo, as they may open accounts anonymously. Weibo offers users the option of maintaining a certified account once their identity is verified by the microblogging service. By the end of 2014, 94,164 state organs and 35,939 state employees had opened certified Weibo accounts. These accounts are referred to hereafter as “government-affiliated Weibo.”
Read the rest of this entry »


Body Count: Nearly 90 People Have Been Shot in Military ‘Gun Free Zones’ in the Last 6 Years

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From The LA Times:

…The attack is the third act of domestic terrorism carried out on U.S. military facilities since 2009. A fourth attack not considered an act of terrorism, in which 12 people were killed and three wounded at the Washington Navy Yard, occurred just two years ago.

In June 2009, Muslim convert Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad killed one soldier and wounded another at a recruiting center in Little Rock, Ark. In November of that year, Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan carried out an attack at Ft. Hood, Texas, that left 13 dead and 32 wounded.

Last year, another shooter at Ft. Hood killed three people and wounded 16.

These combined attacks at military facilities bring the casualty count to 33 dead and 55 wounded by gunfire since 2009.

…One of the easiest safeguards would be for the Obama administration to revise the gun rule that has made military targets such easy prey to armed attackers.

Every military recruit has had basic weapons training, and many officers and non-commissioned officers are trained and regularly qualify to use the military’s standard-issue handguns….(read more)

This dream of military members being able to protect themselves might become a reality very soon. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Conservative Acquaintance Annoyingly Not Racist

After bashing The Onion earlier, it seems they’ve unexpectedly redeemed their street creed…

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BROOKLYN, NY—Acknowledging that the man’s right-wing views are more nuanced than one might expect, 36-year-old liberal Diana Hardwick confided to reporters Tuesday that her conservative acquaintance Brady Daniels is, quite frustratingly, not racist. “We got to talking about immigration, and I really wanted him to undermine his argument for stricter border controls by saying something disparaging of Latinos, but apparently his opinions are based entirely on national security issues instead of race—which is super irritating,” Hardwick said of Daniels, who reportedly describes himself as a “strong conservative” on fiscal issues but, annoyingly, exhibits no racial biases. “It would be so much easier if I could just write him off as a bigot, but as far as I can tell he harbors no resentment or disdain toward people of color. For God’s sake, we argued every issue from states’ rights to income disparity but nope, he didn’t say anything even tacitly racist. Not once.” Hardwick later concluded that her acquaintance’s opposition to most of President Obama’s policies meant he was probably “close enough” to count as a racist.

The Onion


Politifact Smackdown: Ezekiel Emanuel ‘Mostly False’

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Politifact–not exactly a right-wing outlet–gave Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel a “mostly false” rating for his statement on Fox News Sunday Nov. 3 that insurance companies, not Obamacare or President Barack Obama himself, were responsible for individuals losing their health insurance coverage. “The insurance companies are making that choice, not the president,” Emanuel thundered defiantly on the program. “The law does not require that.”

The problem, as Politifact explains, is that the law does require that existing plans comply with new standards, or be canceled: “[T]here’s little doubt the new law is influencing their changes in coverage.” So while insurance companies technically “decide” to cancel policies, they have no choice. (The White House says these policies are junk, but that’s not necessarily true, either.)

“Mostly false” is one step above the “pants on fire” rating.

Politifact