China’s “Fifty Cent Party” which contributes the to official propaganda and censorship by mass posting on blogs and websites critical of the Government appears to be moving from a solely domestic operation to an international one.
Ursla Hay writing in the Huffington Post says she was under attack from the “Fifty Cent Party” even before she had been told her first blog had been uploaded.
Her well written and informative piece shows what can only be described as a disturbing escalation in the battle over freedom of speech and internet freedoms.
Not only are the Chinese authorities lengthening their reach in order to counter what they see as negative publicity they are doing it in a way that uses the very concept of “freedom of speech” to attack it.
Using the foundations of free expression as a weapon against itself can only lead to a result that is too appalling to contemplate. Maybe the dangers are best illustrated by the apocryphal quote from a U.S. military officer during the Vietnam War “We had to destroy the village to save it.”
The “Fifty Cent Party” is made up of netizens paid to attack web based comment but who is to say they do not believe what they are writing.
Is it legitimate to ban them from websites because they are deemed by some to be puppets of an oppressive regime?
Blocking them because of their political affiliations, albeit remunerated, could make them the victims of the very censorship and restrictions on freedom of speech that many find repellant in countries with restrictive regimes like China.
Who is to say their views are not their own just because the coincide with those of the regime and therefore they are entitled to express them.