CCTV report exposes "water army" that is flooding the Internet
People may find a large number of comments and 'likes' on livestreaming sites. However, there is sometimes a "water army" to "flood" the Internet.
The term "water army" refers to groups of ghostwriters or paid accounts who post a large number of online comments and posters for specific goals, such as promoting products and services, slandering competitors, or simply spreading information.
According to a recent undercover report by China Central Television's consumer rights protection agency on Wednesday night, it has become an illegal Internet industry chain, with several companies selling accounts, playing volume, likes, comments, and other services.
They support 24-hour self-service orders and group-control systems with advanced technicians. According to the TV report, they can use "a computer to control up to 20,000 mobile accounts" and instantly "make more than 100 users flock to a livestreaming account."
The program is one of the most watched consumer rights protection programs broadcast annually on March 15.
The companies named in the report, including Jiaxing Yuhe Culture Media and Yan'an Yaruijin Network, use the "water army" to create motivated content for unauthorized or overpriced products, create accounts in new games, and even directly attack other streamers, all of which are paid services.
They clearly facilitate unfair competition and harm the public's interests. They not only violate consumers' legal rights and interests, but also disrupt normal market order.
In fact, the actions are criminal offences, such as illegally using personal information.
According to the TV report, company officials were found using large amounts of real identity information to register on livestreaming sites and game servers, but they refused to disclose how they obtained the personal information.
Several laws have been passed in China to strengthen data and personal information protection, including the Personal Information Protection Law, which went into effect last year. It has prevented organizations from collecting unnecessary data and obtaining user authorization.
The companies that run the "water army" have excellent cover. Those exposed in the report registered with businesses like "culture and art event planning, marketing and business consultancy" and "Internet data, software development, and network system services," according to Qixinbao, a business information and data service under Shanghai-based Intsig.
Regulators in China have organized campaigns to combat the "water army," including the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
However, China's "water army" has its own demands. Advertisers, professional promoters and gaming companies must sometimes meet targets for traffic, comments, and new user numbers. According to media reports, they are willing to pay for the services.