Chinese internet censors really enjoy the work

Chinese social media platforms allow state internet censors to directly suppress individual posts as well as keywords, and an army of young, cool internet censors labor in a swanky office in the Wisdom Mountain Twin Towers in the eastern city of Tianjin to prevent discussions of Tiananmen Square, the missteps of party members, or gaps between the doctrines of the Communist Party and the day-to-day life in China.

The workforce in Wisdom Mountain Twin Towers show up for work in business-casual, manage their shifts on iPads, get a free daily afternoon tea break and enjoy a "horizontal" organizational structure that lets them communicate directly with the CEO about their ideas for improving their workplace. They're part of a workforce of Chinese internet censors that was measured at 2,000,000 people in 2013 and has grown sharply since then.

Many of these censors work for private companies that contract with the Chinese government, like Toutiao, which just raised at least $2B in the capital markets.

Zhang Lijun, chairman of the online news and video portal V1 Group, said that between 20 and 30 per cent of his company’s labour costs went on content auditors – a necessary business expenditure.

“Without doubt you need to maintain close ties with the ruling party,” Zhang said. “Party building, setting up party units properly, these can ensure your news goes out smoothly and keeps your business operations safe.”

The Beijing-based censor said Toutiao used artificial intelligence systems to censor content, though these don’t always understand the tone of posts.

“We are training the AI. They are not as smart. Hopefully they will learn to handle all this eventually.” For now, though, real humans are still in demand.

An advertisement Toutiao posted on Tianjin Foreign Studies University’s career page for students this month sought 100 fresh graduates to work in “content audit”, earning between 4,000-6,000 yuan ($611-$917) per month.

‘It’s seen as a cool place to work’ – how China’s censorship machine is becoming a growth industry [Reuters]

(via Beyond the Beyond)

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