China pays two million to monitor Internet

People look at laptop computers in a cafe in Beijing on May 29, 2013
People look at laptop computers in a cafe in Beijing on May 29, 2013

China is employing two million people to keep tabs on people's Internet use, according to state media, in a rare glimpse into the secret world of Beijing's vast online surveillance operation.

Many of the employees are simply performing keyword searches to monitor the tens of millions of messages being posted daily on popular social media and microblogging sites, the Beijing News said.

The exact number of people employed to trawl through the Internet in a bid to prevent social unrest and limit criticism of the ruling Community party has long been the subject of speculation.

The "web police" are employed by the government's propaganda arm, as well as by commercial sites, the Beijing News said.

It said that despite their large number, the monitors are not always able to prevent comments that are deemed by the government to be undesirable from being published and reposted.

China's censorship authorities tightly control online content for fear of political or social unrest that could challenge the Communist party's grip on power.

Authorities in recent years banned the popular social media sites Facebook and Twitter, which were instrumental in the wave of uprisings that swept the Middle East and North Africa from late 2010 in what became known as the Arab Spring.

Last year authorities blocked The New York Times after it cited financial records showing relatives of former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion—a report China branded a smear.

In recent months authorities have ramped up already strict censoring of domestic sites such as the popular microblog service Sina Weibo.

They have detained hundreds of people for spreading "rumours" online, and warned high-profile bloggers with millions of followers to post more positive comments.

The Supreme Court said this month that Internet users could face three years in jail if "slanderous" information spread online is viewed more than 5,000 times or forwarded more than 500 times.

China has more than 500 million Internet users, making it the world's largest online population.

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© 2013 AFP

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Oct 06, 2013
The mass is amazing!

Oct 06, 2013
So thats 1 person monitoring 250 internet users in China. Seems like they are really trying to keep thier people from being exposed to revolutionary material.

Is it a necessary precaution to promote stability, or an oppressive control scheme designed to keep the people doing what those in power want them to do?

It seems to me that the internet is developing to connect people like never before. Filtering methods like this will only work so long, and it would be harsh to punish someone just for ranting on a forum. I find it offensive that they hide The truth from thier people. Of course, governments lying or hiding the truth from thier people has been going on ever since governments began.

Oct 07, 2013
China is a scary place. I have to give them a level of credit for general improvements to their country, but they cant let go their centralist totalitarian mind set and will only put the pressure on their population until something explodes.

They are cooking a gargantuan real estate bubble that makes the mortgage securities fiasco look like small potatoes.

Oct 07, 2013
I find it offensive that they hide The truth from thier people.

I hate to bring this to you: But there is censorship in every country to some extent (be it via such direct methods as in China or indirect influence on the media as in the US ...or laws like in the UK (where there are subjects that may not be reported on nor may anyone speak about the fact that they may not report on them...much like the laws forbidding Google and the like to talk about the stuff they have to do for the NSA, really)

Not saying that China isn't "out there" when it comes to censorship. (My brother lives there any I couldn't get a link about Chinese doctors urging mothers to a C-section (because they are more profitable) past the censors when his wife was about to have a baby....which I find sort of ridiculous)

Just saying that one shouldn't disregard all the censorship at home.

Oct 07, 2013
Of course, governments lying or hiding the truth from thier people has been going on ever since governments began.

That's why I slipped this comment in there. It is an ancient custom to control the people with information, China does it more directly than other countries.

All one can do is take Anything that Anyone tells you with a grain of salt. You must question everything, because lying is often easier than telling the truth for those in power. To them, lies and truth are irrelevant, there is just cause and effect. Does it matter if the public knows the truth? No. They only care about what effect the information has on the public. Tell Everyone about secret deals with Aliens, it is true but causes chaos, so Order takes precedent over Truth.

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