Inconvenient Truth: China's Censorship Poorly Executed

CDT: Fang Binxing on Great Firewall “Incompetence”
Fang spent about 20 minutes discussing Google and YouTube’s “censorship mechanisms” (审查机制), including how Google deletes search results in response to pressure from governments and the public, and YouTube’s module for deleting videos. Maple Whispers believes Fang’s emphasis on Google and YouTube “tells us the importance of self-censorship and the role government and public opinion ought to have in monitoring content providers.”

Google has made available some government requests to remove content in its transparency report, but has not done the same for content removal requests for YouTube. (YouTube is a subsidiary of Google, whose parent company is Alphabet Inc.)
In China, everyone notices censorship because it is ham-handed. Lots of information is blocked by their crude efforts to censor the Internet. Instead of blocking targeted blogs on blogspot, for example, China simple blocks the entire domain.

In the West, censorship is highly targeted at public enemies and generally goes unnoticed. In the West, you will not notice censorship unless you say something unpopular. Where China needs a large state apparatus, the West relies on voluntary reporting of any crimethink to the corporate authorities. The government also has seemingly clean hands in the U.S. (not so much in Europe), thanks to free speech rights not extending to corporate property in the current interpretation.

Social media companies are also taking censorship to the next level. They have found a way to please everyone, by creating online ghettos. No one will believe there is censorship, yet all will be experiencing a mostly self-censored online experience. China could learn a lot from that approach, allow dissidents online forums and make them believe they are reaching a potentially wide audience, but in reality, they will only be talking to themselves. The drive behind the censorship is simple: profit motive. Some people will not go on sites if they have ideas they dislike, and social media companies can't sell you ads if you're not online. As in other things, the market provides the superior product, in this case censorship. China still has much to learn from the West.

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