How American Mass & Social Media Are Implementing China’s Censorship Model Against Americans
Facebook has reached a point where many Americans are less than trusting. If you ask some people, the site is a fake news cauldron that will eventually cause all of our demises. This is not the only threat to humanity that is centered around the media. Similar issues are taking place in China and they are threatening modern discourse as we know it.
A recent New York Times piece takes a closer look. They obtained documents from the Cyberspace Administration of China in order to examine the early crackdown on the coronavirus in their country. CAC is responsible for running all Chinese media outlets and this includes social media.
They are not going to allow anything to run unless the Communist Party is being praised heavily. Dissident voices are silenced almost immediately and there is no fair exchange of ideas. Pro-state narratives have to be advanced at all costs. Chinese research scientists even took the time to speak with the Times for this piece.
“China has a politically weaponized system of censorship; it is refined, organized, coordinated and supported by the state’s resources,” said Xiao Qiang, a research scientist at the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley, and the founder of China Digital Times. “It’s not just for deleting something. They also have a powerful apparatus to construct a narrative and aim it at any target with huge scale.”
“This is a huge thing,” he added. “No other country has that.” Once the Chinese became aware of the extent of the COVID-19 spread, Xi Jinping set about the task of assuming control over digital media. He also had another goal, which was very simple to understand. The Chinese were looking to “actively influence international opinion.”
The Times has more information about the steps that were taken to bury stories that were less than flattering. “Agency workers began receiving links to virus-related articles that they were to promote on local news aggregators and social media. Directives specified which links should be featured on news sites’ home screens, how many hours they should remain online, and even which headlines should appear in boldface.
Online reports should play up the heroic efforts by local medical workers dispatched to Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus was first reported, as well as the vital contributions of Communist Party members, the agency’s orders said,” the Times shared. This is what many Americans believed was already taking place but those who pointed it out were referred to as racists for pointing that out.
That wasn’t all when it came to the CAC directives. “Headlines should steer clear of the words “incurable” and “fatal,” one directive said, “to avoid causing societal panic.” When covering restrictions on movement and travel, the word “lockdown” should not be used, said another. Multiple directives emphasized that “negative” news about the virus was not to be promoted,” says the Times.
Screenshots are included in the piece for anyone who remains skeptical at the moment. “We must recognize with a clear mind the butterfly effect, broken windows effect, and snowball effect triggered by this event, and the unprecedented challenge that it has posed to our online opinion management and control work. All Cyberspace Administration bureaus must pay heightened attention to online opinion, and resolutely control anything that seriously damages party and government credibility and attacks the political system …” one reads.
Point systems were even set up for media outlets, so the CAC could judge their ability to keep information under wraps. Every site starts a quarter with 100 points and from there, points are deducted according to the whims of the CAC.
The Chinese have no shortage of employees who are willing to handle media narrative related work. When a tyrannical regime assumes control over the media, that’s all she wrote. They have the ability to shut down any story that they do not want to spread. The world’s most populous country has zero freedom and this is something that we need to worry about more than Facebook.