from the glimpse-behind-the-Great-Firewall dept.
The Globe and Mail covers an unpublished Chinese censorship document revealing sweeping effort to eradicate online political content.
Chinese authorities have tightened their grip on the country's online broadcasting platforms, banning a long list of content – everything from tattoos to religious proselytizing, violations of "mainstream values," flirtatious dancing, images of leaders and Western political critiques – as the government seeks to stamp out any venue that could be used for dissent or behaviour it considers obscene, according to an unpublished censorship directive obtained by The Globe and Mail.
The meteoric growth of online video services in China has offered a vibrant venue for creativity and, occasionally, obscenity and political protest – unleashing a daily riptide of user-made cat videos, pranks and glimpses of everyday life. Hundreds of millions of people in China watch short video clips and live-stream video every month.
Chinese authorities have responded with strict new rules, ordering online broadcasters to eradicate a wide range of content, according to the document obtained by The Globe, which is entitled "Management requirements for live service information and content."
The document is being used as a master guideline for content blocking by some of the country's most-used video sites, multiple sources in the industry told The Globe. It began circulating early this year, and is believed to have been issued by the powerful Cyberspace Administration of China, China's central Internet authority, which did not respond to requests for comment.
Comments from Amnesty International and other organizations are included. The document outlines ten basic categories of banned content and provides insight into the Chinese government's goals.
The New York Times has an article about China's online censorship factories and how they operate. Censors are specially educated accurately in history and politics so that they have mastery over how to spot and eliminate references, even indirect ones, to forbidden topics. Potential employees for censorship factories have to cram for two weeks for a comprehensive exam which they must pass in order to begin work. This education is followed by ongoing training which includes regularly visiting and reviewing web sites normally blocked by the Great Firewall of China.
Li Chengzhi had a lot to learn when he first got a job as a professional censor.
Like many young people in China, the 24-year-old recent college graduate knew little about the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. He had never heard of China’s most famous dissident, Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who died in custody two years ago.
Now, after training, he knows what to look for — and what to block. He spends his hours scanning online content on behalf of Chinese media companies looking for anything that will provoke the government’s wrath. He knows how to spot code words that obliquely refer to Chinese leaders and scandals, or the memes that touch on subjects the Chinese government doesn’t want people to read about.