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If you thought corporate "astroturfing" (fake grassroots activity) was a problem at sites like Yelp and Amazon that feature user reviews of products, imagine how much worse it would be if the U.S. government employed a couple hundred thousand people to "shape the debate" among online political forums. Crazy, right? What government would ever attempt it?
According to noted China researcher Rebecca MacKinnon, the answer is China, which allegedly employs 280,000 people to troll the Internet and make the government look good.
MacKinnon's discussion of Chinese astroturfing measures turns up in testimony that she prepared from a Congressional hearing this month. When that hearing was eventually rescheduled, MacKinnon was no longer on the witness list, so she released her prepared remarks (PDF) anyway.