YouTube has been censoring comments critical of the Chinese regime

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Google (Alphabet Corp) owned YouTube has been using an algorithm to automatically delete comments containing phrases that imply criticism of China’s totalitarian communist government.

Popular phrases critical of Chinese communist disappear

Gong fei is a Chinese term that literally translates as ‘communist bandit.’ Although it refers to the corrupt, kleptocratic rule of present day Chinese officials, it has special historical significance. During the Second World War, while the Chinese Nationalist Party was fighting the Japanese occupation, the communists were hiding out in the country’s northwestern badlands, saving their strength and earning money in the drug trade. The term has been in use since that period and is especially popular in the eventual destination of the Chinese Nationalist Party and its supporters, Taiwan.

Wumaodang means “50-cent party.” Far from referring to a hip-hop album release event, this phrase is an expletive describing netizens who are supposedly paid a few cents per-post to turn online discussions in favor of the regime. The practice and the term have been around for over a decade. It is unclear whether the actual payment scheme has changed in that time. Half a Chinese Yuan is currently worth 7 US cents.

Has Google cut a deal with the communist party?

 

YouTube’s policy appears to indicate that the company or its parent, Google, has made some accommodation with the communist regime after years of friction. YouTube has been blocked and illegal to use in China since 2009, so this policy is not targeting China’s domestic internet users. Google has suffered stiff competition in China thanks to its longstanding refusal to bend to censorship requirements. The gap has been filled by China’s domestic Baidu search engine. Google recently considered trying to regain market share with a censored search engine but American officials and Google’s own employees adamantly opposed the move.

Google has claimed that the removal of the critical phrases was ‘an error.’ It is unclear how that could be so. If it were really not the company’s policy, it may be possible that YouTube was hacked by Chinese state hackers or that the algorithm was introduced by an employee sympathetic to the communist regime.

There is evidence on YouTube comment sections that this policy has been in effect for well over half a year at least. Since the Chinese government mishandled the coronavirus pandemic, Americans have become far more receptive to criticism of ‘the next superpower.’