The Chinese government fakes 448 million social media posts a year, according to a study by Harvard data scientists.
This forms part of a strategy by the Chinese government to create the appearance of viral outbursts of Web activity and distract from topics related to actual or potential collective action.
“The prevailing belief among journalists, academics, and activists, he said, has been that the government maintains an aggressive social media strategy that actively rebuts anti-government posts and tries to cast opponents, whether domestic or foreign, institutional or individual, in a negative light” said Gary King, the Albert J. Weatherhead III University professor who carried out the research.
“In fact, such posts make up a tiny minority, the researchers found. Most qualify as ‘cheerleading’ – praise for the government and items on revolutionary history, national holidays, and other patriotic themes.”
“In short,” King said, “the government is trying to distract people and defuse tension over fraught issues.”
All of the names used give the appearance of ordinary people, so it is also almost impossible to tell if the post is coming from a bot unless you are specifically looking for them.
You can read more about the study here.