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Can Internet accurately gauge public opinion? (2)

By Zhang Yin  (People's Daily)

09:09, October 29, 2011

Yu Guoming: The public opinions on microblog are neither equal to that on the Internet nor equal to the opinions of all people in the real society. Although they are not the same, their essence is relevant. This means that the online public opinions are part of social public opinions and the public opinions on microblogs are part of online public opinions.

The significance and value of the public opinions on microblogs cannot be denied just because they do not fully represent public opinions. It is only necessary to understand and properly handle the extent to which the opinions expressed on microblogs can be regarded as being representative of public opinion. Who are expressing such public opinions or what social characteristics they have should be analyzed.

Han Liyong: The online public opinions are part of social public opinions. Another characteristic of online expressions is the relevance of the means of expression to online participation. To draw more online attention, Internet users should use the means of expression that are popular with the masses. Therefore, if celebrities, businessmen and officials use "aggressive" words to express opinions online, they will unlikely produce good results.

Wang Yukai: As an incident spreads on the Internet, whether or not the mainstream public opinion is formed is crucial. When enough facts about the incident are exposed, mainstream public opinion will take shape. As more facts are exposed and the public gets closer to the truth, there will be changes in mainstream public opinion to truly reflect the development of the incident itself.

Therefore, we should attach importance to mainstream public opinion. When an incident occurs, thousands of netizens will express their opinions about the incident, and there are bound to be irrational views. Under such a context, we should pay our attention to mainstream public opinion because in most cases, mainstream public opinion makes great sense and can be used to examine government policies and performances. Furthermore, the formation of mainstream public opinion can also correct netizens' irrational views.

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