The new changes affect the Regulations on the Management of Commentary Services on the Internet, a regulation that first came into force in 2017. Five years later, the Cyberspace Administration wants to update it.
“The proposed revisions primarily update the current version of the comment policy to bring it in line with the language and policies of newer authorities, such as new laws on personal data protection, data security and general content regulations,” said Jeremy Daum, senior associate at Yalea Law School. Paul Tsai China Center.
The provisions cover many types of comments, including everything from forum posts, replies, messages left on public bulletin boards and “bullet chats”(An innovative way that video platforms in China use to display real-time comments at the top of the video). All formats, including texts, symbols, GIFs, images, audio and video, are covered by this regulation.
There is a need for a stand-alone regulation on comments because many make them difficult to censor as rigorously as other content, such as articles or videos, says Eric Liu, a former Weibo censor who now investigates Chinese censorship in the China Digital Times.
“One thing that everyone in the censorship industry knows is that no one pays attention to answers and chatting. They are inadvertently moderated, with minimal effort, ”says Liu.
But recently, there have been several embarrassing cases where comments under government Weibo accounts have become false, pointing to government lies or rejecting the official story. This could be what prompted the regulatory update he proposed.
Chinese social platforms are currently at the forefront of censorship, often actively removes posts before the government and other users see them at all. ByteDance famously employs thousands of content reviewers, who make up the largest number of employees in the company. Other companies hand over the task to companies for “rent censorship”, including one owned by Chinese entertainment messenger People’s Daily. They are platforms often punished to release things.
Beijing is constantly improving its control over social media, fixing holes and introducing new restrictions. But the vagueness of the latest revisions makes people worried that the government might ignore the practical challenges. For example, strictly enforcing the new pre-release review rule – which would require reading billions of public messages posted daily by Chinese users – will force platforms to dramatically increase the number of people they employ to carry out uncensored. The difficult question is that no one knows whether the government intends to implement it immediately.