A quotation sheet of a Chinese Internet Water Army (IWA) company, who pays comment writers to post particular online comments, shows it can provide Traffic Exchange services on many online video platforms. According to the sheet, it costs 40 yuan to increase 10,000 views of videos on Beijing-based online video provider iQiyi.
The information came to light recently as China Central Television (CCTV) reported on the practice of falsifying online viewing figures of Chinese TV dramas.
Employing a group of IWA, or shuijun in Chinese, who are paid to post online comments with particular contents or increase the viewing numbers of targeted TV dramas, has been nothing new in the Chinese TV dramas market, reported Beijing News on Wednesday.
Earlier this year, a hit online series named "To the Sky Kingdom," starring Taiwan actor Mark Chao and mainland actress Yang Mi, reportedly recorded a total of 30.9 billion views online.
The series reportedly was viewed 1.4 billion times within one day, which means the total 760 million Chinese Internet users would have all watched the drama twice that day, as CCTV reported.
Falsifying viewing figures could benefit producers directly, as well as increasing the remuneration for the actors and actresses. Besides, a lack of legal regulations has also facilitated the cheating practice, said director Li Yang.
"Chinese audiences are the direct victims of the fake data in the TV drama businesses. It will make the industry more and more abnormal. People watch movies because of their online ranks and reported high views but find the movies smelling of stinkers. At long last, they will lose confidence for Chinese movies," Li added.
A black-and-white movie made in 1958, which was viewed only 8,922 times online, can be easily "viewed" for another 100,000 times for a mere 30 yuan, said an Internet marketer in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province.
According to the marketer, there are at least 1,000 shuijun in the online messaging groups of their company. They can artificially increase the video viewing figures on online video platforms like Tencent, Youku and iQiyi.
If the information posted by IWA damages an individual's or an organization's reputation, it shall be seen as online defamation, said Han Xiaolv, a lawyer of Beijing Kangda Law Firm. Han added the IWA will be charged with defamation if their posts are viewed over 5,000 times or forwarded over 500 times.
One can easily search for the shunjun with keywords like "shunjun" or "traffic exchange" on social media and online shopping platforms, reports Beijing News.