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 opportunities. They get paid for posting comments or articles on different online communities and websites for hidden purposes, e.g., to influence the opinion of other people towards certain social events or business markets. While being 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 netizens 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.
Cheng Chen, Kui Wu, Venkatesh Srinivasan, and Xudong Zhang. 2013. Battling the internet water army: detection of hidden paid posters. In Proceedings of the 2013 IEEE/ACM International Conference on Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining (ASONAM '13). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 116-120. DOI=10.1145/2492517.2492637 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2492517.2492637
If you don't believe that Corporations in the United States are not actively using this same technique and that most of the comments you read on News articles aren't basically paid-for-ads then you seriously need to consider upgrading you're reality to the dawn of a new age.