It’s time to fight against the “Internet water army”.



The Internet, particularly e-commerce, has greatly changed the way people live and the way people work. However, the abuse and misuse of Internet platforms and information and communication technologies have seriously damaged the interests of market entities and consumers. Among these insidious threats is what has come to be known as the “Internet Water Army.”

The term is used to describe groups of ghostwriters who are paid to post large numbers of online comments and posters to achieve certain goals, such as promoting products and services, defaming competitors, or simply spreading information (or misinformation). Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish “Internet water army” from ordinary networkers.

The “Internet Water Army” is ready and willing to “flood” the Internet with benign content for anyone willing to pay, and it seems there’s a lot of demand for it.

The “Internet Water Army” consists mainly of regular writers organized by online public relations firms and spammers. However, advertisers and professional promoters who cooperate with special workers and are in high demand also harm the interests of market entities and consumers, because they knowingly or otherwise cooperate with the group to realize their goals, which are many times. are posterior.

Positive recommendations can make a huge difference in selling a product, but they can also drive a competitor out of the market. When companies spend millions of yuan to launch new products or services, it’s easy to see why they might want to use every tool at their disposal to succeed. The loser in all this is the consumer who has been misled into making a purchase decision on fake premises.

Indeed, the actions carried out by the “Internet Water Army”, such as posting motivated comments and posters, deleting materials, posting suspicious and false advertisements, are illegal. It is especially unfair to post comments and other content on a commercial scale to achieve a business goal, such as making a product or service extremely popular in a short period of time.

Online comments and other material are usually deleted in cooperation with the people who posted the defamatory comments and material in the first place, and are charged exorbitant amounts of money to do so. As for illegal ads, they often involve online PR companies, who, with the help of a large amount of “Internet water army” and in many cases in cooperation with Internet celebrities, repost such ads.

“Internet Water Army” promotes unfair competition and harms public interests. It not only violates the legal rights and interests of consumers, but also producers and operators, but also disrupts the normal order of the market. In fact, many of the group’s actions are criminal offenses that should be punished.

The authorities should therefore take multi-pronged measures using legal, administrative and technical means to end the illegal activities of Internet water armies by, among other things, strengthening the control of Internet platforms and related businesses to find the right balance between freedom of speech and freedom. protection of legal rights and interests of the people.

In recent years, the Cyberspace Administration of China and the Ministry of Public Security have taken targeted measures to curb the spread of the “Internet Water Army” and achieved remarkable results. And the latter has been campaigning against these illegal actions since the end of June.

In addition, technical measures need to be strengthened and modernized, with Douban, a Chinese social platform, introducing software in April to prevent the “Internet Water Army” from monitoring online comments.

As for the public, they need to improve their perception of the “Internet water army”, not be easily impressed by high comments about a product or service, and make an informed choice when it comes to purchasing a product, thereby helping to clean up the Internet.

The author is a professor of law at the University of Political Science and Law of China and a permanent consultant of the China Intellectual Property Society.

Views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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