After the Cybersecurity Law that came into effect in June of last year, Chinese authorities are paying more attention to—and publicizing their action against—rumors and fake news online. After three months of planning, the police of Guangzhou have recently cracked down on a “water army” (in Chinese), which involves 77 suspects and a sum of RMB 4 million ($635,000), the Southern Metropolis Daily has reported.

Commonly known as shuijun (水军 or water army), the paid posters are ready to flood blogs, forum, and chat groups for whoever is willing to pay for biased comments, rumors, gossip, and information or disinformation.

There seems to be plenty of demands for their services and an ecosystem surround the tide is forming. Low-end migrants, housewives, even students could constitute the basic level of the industrial chain. They send the paid-for content to various outlets for tens of cents to several RMB per post.

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Emma Lee

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com.