How the Chinese Government Fabricates Social Media Posts for Strategic Distraction, not Engaged Argument
The Chinese government has long been suspected of hiring as many as 2,000,000 people to surreptitiously insert huge numbers of pseudonymous and other deceptive writings into the stream of real social media posts, as if they were the genuine opinions of ordinary people. Many academics, and most journalists and activists, claim that these so-called "50c party" posts vociferously argue for the government's side in political and policy debates. As we show, this is also true of the vast majority of posts openly accused on social media of being 50c. Yet, almost no systematic empirical evidence exists for this claim, or, more importantly, for the Chinese regime's strategic objective in pursuing this activity. In the first large scale empirical analysis of this operation, we show how to identify the secretive authors of these posts, the posts written by them, and their content. We estimate that the government fabricates and posts about 448 million social media comments a year. In contrast to prior claims, we show that the Chinese regime's strategy is to avoid arguing with skeptics of the party and the government, and to not even discuss controversial issues. We infer that the goal of this massive secretive operation is instead to regularly distract the public and change the subject, as most of the these posts involve cheerleading for China, the revolutionary history of the Communist Party, or other symbols of the regime. We discuss how these results fit with what is known about the Chinese censorship program, and suggest how they may change our broader theoretical understanding of "common knowledge" and information control in authoritarian regimes...
Spencer and others have said that he created the term "alt-right", a term he considers a movement about white identity.
Spencer has repeatedly quoted from Nazi propaganda and spoken critically of the Jewish people, although he has denied being a neo-Nazi. Spencer and his organization drew considerable media attention in the weeks following the 2016 presidential election, where, in response to his cry "Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!", a number of his supporters gave the Nazi salute similar to the Sieg Heil chant used at the Nazis' mass rallies. Spencer has defended their conduct, stating that the Nazi salute was given in a spirit of "irony and exuberance"...
The charity said its figures, which critics have queried, came from improved data, and the gap between rich and poor was "far greater than feared".
The richest eight include Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Warren Buffett.
Mark Littlewood, of the Institute of Economic Affairs, said Oxfam should focus instead on ways to boost growth.
"As an 'anti-poverty' charity, Oxfam seems to be strangely preoccupied with the rich," said the director-general of the free market think tank.
For those concerned with "eradicating absolute poverty completely", the focus should be on measures that encourage economic growth, he added.
Ben Southwood, head of research at the Adam Smith Institute, said it was not the wealth of the world's rich that mattered, but the welfare of the world's poor, which was improving every year.
"Each year we are misled by Oxfam's wealth statistics. The data is fine - it comes from Credit Suisse - but the interpretation is not."...