Forged digital data platforms estimated to reach 1,000, earn millions of yuan a month
Published: Jul 28, 2019 12:48 PM

Chinese singer Cai Xukun from Nine Percent Photo: IC

 An epic clash between fans of 40-year-old singer Jay Chou and young celebrity Cai Xukun, which ended with victory for the former, has once again brought a phenomenon of the country's chaotic entertainment industry into the spotlight: forge digital data and you will win popularity. 

On Sina Weibo's "influential power" ranking list, Chou, with nearly 75 million credits and more than 3 million followers, overtook idol Cai Xukun after a fierce 16-hour online popularity battle among fans. The list is published weekly and shows the trending influence of Chinese stars.

Behind the battle is the heated topic, "swiping digital date," which means fans may buy website views or topic hits to show their devotion and support for their idols, or stars may forge numbers through automatic or artificial platforms to increase their influence.  

In 2018, Cai was criticized by the Communist Youth League of China (CYLC) central committee for artificially padding the number of reposts and likes for one of his Weibo posts. The CYLC central committee showed that one of the Weibo posts had 100 million reposts, but only one million likes, which it considered abnormal. It also said the post was largely reposted by either the celebrity's fan clubs or users without proper usernames, implying they were software-generated.

Situations such as a star's Weibo post being reposted by 200 million times within a day, or an online drama being viewed over 1 billion times in a short period, can be regarded as forging digital data, cyber space expert Zhang Baofeng from Chinese internet giant Tencent's guardian project told the Global Times on Thursday.

Zhang said various "swiping digital data" platforms in China are expected to number more than 1,000 in total, of which the top 100 can earn around 2 million yuan ($145,530) monthly. 

Based on these huge profits, the size of the domestic "swiping digital data" industry is estimated to reach more than 9 million people, Zhang said. 

The Beijing Public Security Bureau announced a case of wiping digital data at a press conference on Thursday, in which the bureau said a commercial website was found to be able to create 100,000 likes and reposts to a client's Weibo post in a short time for the price of 700,000 yuan.

Curbing forged digital data needs further implementation of an online real-name system, Zhang said, noting that "only by strengthening the control of communication card numbers can the country truly cut off fake user registration."