Those reading about China’s social media in English have been mesmerized by articles summarizing the recently published and impressive study of the pro-government “fifty cent army” on Weibo by Professor Gary King of Harvard’s Institute for Quantitive Social Science and coauthors Professors Jennifer Pan and Margaret Roberts from Stanford and the University of California, San Diego. However, according to the numbers, the focus of China’s social media has very much shifted to Wechat (Weixin). According to statistics from April, 2016, the number of Wechat active users has grown to 650 million, while the number of Weibo active users at the same time was about 261 million. Wang Dong, author of a popular (and prize-winning) legal Wechat public account CU检说法 (with a day job at the Suzhou Procuratorate), recently pointed out that a “Mr. Yong” poses a threat to Wechat readers.
Wang Dong posed the question “who is that guy Yong (用)?” “Every time Yong Hu (用户) (user) complains about the content in an article, it disappears.” Wang Dong asked further:
Who is this guy “用户”? He certainly does not like to stand on a podium to debate with people, perhaps because of stuttering, but more likely because he really does not have that kind of scholarship, does not know what to say, and perhaps, after he says a few words and omits words and is ridiculed, the crowd of helpless laughter causes him to retreat back.
So, the easiest way is hiding in the shadows, lurking, lurking, lurking silently, silently recording his hate in every move and every word of the people, to analyze these articles, from which to find “segments of illegal content.”
Perhaps Professor King and coauthors can now turn their attention to Mr. Yong and his army of Wechat lurkers, to assist us in understanding what made Mr. Yong and his army of lurkers complain about 200,000 items on Wechat in 2015 and cause 120,000 Wechat public accounts to be penalized.