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In its battle to control the Internet, China seeks the most difficult yet: censor all comments

In its battle to control the Internet, China seeks the most difficult yet: censor all comments

China is taking Internet censorship to its ultimate consequences. First there were the accounts banned for showing their fanaticism towards some idols. Then the users expelled from the networks for using youth slang unconventional. Chinese netizens have been playing cat and mouse with the censors for some time. And of course, who is in the front line of battle are the platforms, which strive to remove the publications before the government or other users can see them.

Basically because they are punished for letting things get away from them. Users are now worried that what little freedom of expression they have left is further eroded. But they are going to have a hard time. Now China has proposed a regulation that requires platforms to review all comments on their networks.

The new law. The Internet regulator Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) published a few days ago a draft on the responsibilities of platforms and content creators in the management of comments on-line. One part has not gone unnoticed: “All comments must be pre-reviewed before posting.” Basically, platforms are instructed to hire a content moderation team to review all comments and filter them before posting.

But that is not all. The draft also proposes for the first time in the country’s history that the person or entity that uploads a publication is also responsible for the comments made on it by other users. That’s why influencers are now being much more cautious about what they share.

What does it consist of? In the review of all types of comments, from forum posts, responses, posts on social networks or real-time chats. All formats, including texts, emoji, GIFs, images, audio and videos, will be governed by these regulations. It is a very complicated thing because normally the networks would censor content such as a video or an image, but doing it from each comment in a live chat, which is something that has always been moderated with little care, can be torture.

One of the reasons for the new update may be several cases in which comments have appeared on government Weibo (Chinese Twitter) accounts criticizing the regime or pointing out lies by officials. Come on, rejecting the official narrative.

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An expensive load for the platforms. Who is going to pay it is not only the users. If the new law is strictly enforced, it would require reading billions of messages every day. That will force platforms to dramatically increase the number of staff dedicated to censorship. On Weibo, these control measures were applied only to accounts that have violated content standards, or when there is a heated discussion on a sensitive topic, especially news comments. But the update encompasses the entire Internet. And of course, censoring every comment will result in huge costs for the platforms.

A "exile" digital: China wants to take Internet censorship to its ultimate consequences

Forbid them to talk about complex topics. The craze for censorship in China seems not to stop. Recently, in Xataka we commented that Chinese influencers will no longer be able to talk about complex topics unless they demonstrate deep knowledge about them. The Government has restricted the treatment of certain topics in social networks, such as medicine or law, to those content creators who do not prove to the platforms that they have a professional qualification according to the subject, such as a university degree.

In their own way. This is the latest string of restrictions that China has been launching in recent years. From laws that prohibit the publication of content that “undermines” or harm the leadership of the Chinese Communist Partyto others that grant the power to the Administration to delete any post the government doesn’t like.

A digital “banishment”: Doing so will result in death on the Internet. As the intensity intensifies repression on-line, the risks of losing connection permanently could further reduce the space for expression. Now China wants to ban these users forever. The final exile. The Chinese watchdog is already ordering websites to prevent banned accounts from being “reincarnated,” as part of a campaign to strengthen the country internet censorship.

Individuals and businesses can terminate accounts for posting content deemed illegal, such as false information, pornography, or criticism of the government. But users could register again. Operators must now step up surveillance of “blacklisted accounts” and prevent them from being born againaccording to the latest directives.