Re: “Black PR” in China refers to the underground Internet agency, which help client companies virtually erase any bad publicity. I was really fascinated by this, as I had never heard of such a thing. I wondered if there was an American equivalent to this company. I have heard of sites deleting posts/comments, but not outright erasing bad publicity. The only thing I could think of that is similar here in the U.S. is Reputation.com, where you can manage your online reputation and they will monitor web content about you (if you’re their client). They can’t and don’t promise to remove everything, according to CEO Michael Fertik. Do you think an American counterpart to China’s black PR companies be popular here in the U.S.? I think it could be, but it wouldn’t be for companies, it would be for celebrities or people in the limelight. Think about how many unflattering photos, rumors/gossip/lies, scandals happen in print, broadcast and online involving celebrities or well-known figures—much like in China as discussed in the article. I think this type of service could be popular in theory but like Yage, it would first have to be unknown to the public and perhaps done through methods like hacking. But due to the fact that the First Amendment exists, I don’t think it could be possible.
I used to be active on review sites like Yelp and similar counterparts, and I have heard rumors—albeit from users—about Yelp deleting negative posts (or perhaps the business establishment demands or pays them to). So these are two similar forms of content management though not nearly as extreme as China’s black PR.
But this topic just brings to the forefront the idea of a whole industry that now exists—reputation management. This article in Forbes discusses the “dark side” to this industry here in the U.S. She refers to “mugshot extortionists” who can expunge your unflattering and embarrassing mugshot and posting from the Internet. But this comes at a price– $400 to be exact. But as nice as it may be to have your mugshot removed, it can start a spiral of similar situations in which businesses/groups repost the photo to an identical site and then ask you to pay again to remove it, creating a snowball effect of sorts.
This sort of thing also created another issue that resulted in a class action lawsuit: “Hundreds of people who have been exonerated of all charges and had their records sealed are suing the websites for not only keeping their mugshots up and using them in banner ads, but refusing to take them down and “scrub” them off the Internet unless the victims pay a hefty fee. It just goes to show to what lengths people will go to have their personal information removed (when most of us are so eager to post/publicize ourselves on personal social media sites, which is ironic).
Re: Ch. 13 – Zhao’s piece was extremely dense, just as Dr. Rodgers warned us about. I found it largely grounded in historical and theoretical foundations that I honestly was not familiar with – for example, discussion of the Mao regime and the structural makeup of Chinese society (especially class relations). Despite that, I tried my best to make sense of the reading. I approached this with a dominant/hegemonic reading in mind because I had no other contexts to compare or contrast it with. I had more questions than I have had this semester with the readings thus far. She talked about the “online activism by Chinese citizens” (p. 254) but I was left wondering about what we have discussed in class about there being a total lack of options for the same social networking sites as we have here in the states, like Facebook and Twitter– instead there are Chinese equivalents (but they aren’t really equivalent). How can Chinese citizens exhibit this “online activism” when there are not any venues for them to do so, i.e. social media, and their government engages in widespread censorship? I don’t know the answer to such a question but it came to mind anyway.
I was also intrigued by confused by the discussion of “knowledge capitalists” (p. 257). What are some of the characteristics of a knowledge capitalist? Does this mean private ownership of knowledge, which to me sounds like another form of censorship? I wasn’t sure. Connected to this concept was that of class struggles and division (or as she referred to it, economic “cleavages”). I found Zhao’s discussion of class differences in China to be the easiest concept to understand. Basically, the differences dictate consumption. What kind of media do you think members of each class described by Zhao most heavily consume? i.e. the rural and urban populations? Later in the chapter she goes on to say that the ‘middle class’ is more concerned with consumerism and acquisition of material wealth. This is similar to the middle class of the U.S. who want upward mobility and social fluidity. Has the Western influence permeated Chinese class society and changed the type of media they consume? I know that Western brands and foods have permeated Chinese culture, but what about our attitudes about media consumption? I think our reliance and obsession with social media has influenced China. Even though they can’t have the same SNS as we do, they create counterparts that aren’t banned in their country. It just illustrates the fact that the desire for human expression cannot easily be silenced.
– Has the Western influence permeated Chinese class society and changed the type of media they consume? I know that Western brands and foods have permeated Chinese culture, but what about our attitudes about media consumption?
Nicki Karimipour; firstname.lastname@example.org