More censorship concerns have been raised by China’s plans to scrutinize each social media comment. The document also proposes that the author of a post is likewise accountable for any comments posted by others.
China may soon review every social media comment before it is posted online, raising concerns about more censorship in a nation with one of the strictest media environments in the world.
China’s internet watchdog released a new set of draft guidelines on its website on Friday to instruct content platforms to evaluate all online comments before they are published and to report any “illegal and harmful material” uncovered to the authorities.
The announcement stated that the public can provide feedback on the guidelines by July 1 and that the new rules are intended to “safeguard national security and public interests, as well as preserve the legitimate rights and interests of individuals.”
Chinese social media users have voiced worry that their online venues for free speech may be increasingly limited despite the restrictions not yet being put into effect. Draft laws “are often enacted without considerable adjustments” in China, according to the South China Morning Post.
The hashtag “comments will be checked first then published” has been seen more than 35.2 million times on the Twitter-like Weibo site.
“What it will be like to hear only one specific voice is beyond my comprehension (of opinion). Will people believe that there is just one voice in reality?” a user on Weibo wrote.
Online remarks that criticize the government or are deemed politically or culturally sensitive are deliberately censored in China by content platforms, as is the case with complaints about the scarcity of food in Shanghai during the severe Covid lockdown.
However, according to the MIT Technology Review, internet comments are often less thoroughly watched.
The publication said that there had been “many difficult incidents when comments under government Weibo accounts went rogue, pointing out government falsehoods or contradicting the official narrative” recently without going into further detail.
A day before the anniversary of the severely regulated 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, one of China’s most well-known influencers, Li Jiaqi, unexpectedly left the air as he was promoting a tank-shaped ice cream earlier this month. Some of his supporters did, however, manage to allude to the momentous occasion in online comments on Weibo, as previously reported by Insider.