China wants to censor all comments on social media

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The new changes address the provisions governing the management of Internet message response services, a regulation that first came into effect in 2017† Five years later, the Cyberspace Administration wants to bring it up to date.

“The proposed revisions primarily update the current version of the ‘comment rules’ to bring them into line with the language and policies of more recent authority, such as new laws on the protection of personal information, data security and general content regulations,” said Jeremy. Daum, a Senior Fellow at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center.

The provisions cover a wide scope of “comments,” including everything from forum posts, replies, posts left on public bulletin boards, and “bullet chats” (an innovative way video platforms in China use to display real-time comments on top of the video). All formats including texts, symbols, gifs, images, audio and video are subject to this regulation.

There is a need for a standalone regime for comments, as the sheer number makes it difficult to censor them as rigorously as other content, such as articles or videos, said Eric Liu, a former censor for Weibo who is now investigating Chinese censorship. at China Digital Times.

“One thing everyone in the censorship industry knows is that no one pays attention to the replies and bullet chats. They are moderated carelessly, with minimal effort,” says Liu.

But recently, there have been several awkward cases where comments under government Weibo accounts became rogue, pointing to government lies or dismissing the official story. That could be the reason for the proposed update from the regulator.

Chinese social platforms are currently on the front lines of censorship work, often actively deleting posts before the government and other users can even see them. ByteDance employs the famous thousands of content critics who: make up the largest number of employees at the company. Other companies also outsource from ‘censorship-for-rent’ companies, including a owned by the Chinese party spokesman People’s Daily. The platforms are: often punished to let things slip.

Beijing is constantly refining its social media controls, closing loopholes and introducing new restrictions. But the vagueness of the latest revisions scares people that the government is ignoring practical challenges. For example, if the new rule about mandating pre-published reviews is to be strictly enforced — allowing billions of public posts to be read every day by Chinese users — it will force the platforms to censor the number of people they employ. to increase drastically. The tricky question is: no one knows whether the government intends to enforce this right away.