China’s Net “Hall Monitors”

The New York Times examines some new Internet efforts by China’s pro-government youth. They monitor online forums and “try to steer what they consider negative conversations in a positive direction with a well-placed comment. Anything they deem offensive, they report to the university’s Web master for deletion.” Sounds like part astrotrufing, part sanitizing, and part secret police all in one. But is this really all that different than instructors posing as sudents in their class discussion groups, or the push polls, paid propoganda, and video news releases in American politics today?