Internet Water Army: A Research Exposes Chinese Paid Posters

Internet Water Army: A Research Exposes Chinese Paid Posters
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“The Internet Water Army is a group of individuals in China who are paid to inundate the Internet with comments, gossip, or other content to build up or demolish the consumer ranking of products and services, and

MIT Review - Internet Regular vs Paid posters

MIT Review - Internet Regular vs Paid posters

University of Victoria researcher Cheng Chen and colleagues went undercover as posters to expose the group’s modus operandi. The posters are typically tasked with registering on a Web site and then producing content in the form of posts, articles, links to sites and videos, etc., which is frequently pre-prepared. Once having determined the system’s workings, the researchers analyzed the pattern of posts appearing on several major Chinese sites. They then sifted through the posts manually, identifying those thought to be from paid posters, and then seeking behavioral patterns that can distinguish them from genuine users. According to their analysis, paid posters post more new comments than replies to other comments, they post more often, and they move on from a discussion faster than legitimate users. The paid posters also take shortcuts, frequently cutting and pasting the same content. The researchers created software to look for these patterns, and it can identify paid posters with 88 percent accuracy.”

Research article details:

“Battling the Internet Water Army: Detection of Hidden Paid Posters

(Submitted on 18 Nov 2011)

Abstract: We initiate a systematic study to help distinguish a special group of online users, called hidden paid posters, or termed “Internet water army” in China, from the legitimate ones. On the Internet, the paid posters represent a new type of online job opportunity. They get paid for posting comments and new threads or articles on different online communities and websites for some hidden purposes, e.g., to influence the opinion of other people towards certain social events or business markets. Though an interesting strategy in business marketing, paid posters may create a significant negative effect on the online communities, since the information from paid posters is usually not trustworthy. When two competitive companies hire paid posters to post fake news or negative comments about each other, normal online users may feel overwhelmed and find it difficult to put any trust in the information they acquire from the Internet. In this paper, we thoroughly investigate the behavioral pattern of online paid posters based on real-world trace data. We design and validate a new detection mechanism, using both non-semantic analysis and semantic analysis, to identify potential online paid posters. Our test results with real-world datasets show a very promising performance.”

Sources: via TechNews and MIT Technology Review

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