The censorship industry in China is big business.
"My office is next to the big training room," Mr. Yang said. "I often hear the surprised sounds of 'Ah, ah, ah.'" China's censorship machine is so well oiled that young censors have to be taught what they were missing.
This incredible New York Times feature by reporter Li Yuan offers an intimate peek inside a Chinese censorship factory, and shows how they train their young human censors — and how technology supports their work.
China has built the world's most extensive and sophisticated online censorship system. It grew even stronger under President Xi Jinping, who wants the internet to play a greater role in strengthening the Communist Party's hold on society. More content is considered sensitive. Punishments are getting more severe.
Once circumspect about its controls, China now preaches a vision of a government-supervised internet that has surprising resonance in other countries. Even traditional bastions of free expression like Western Europe and the United States are considering their own digital limits. Platforms like Facebook and YouTube have said that they would hire thousands more people to better keep a handle on their content.
Workers like Mr. Li show the extremes of that approach — one that controls what more than 800 million internet users in China see every day. Beyondsoft employs over 4,000 workers like Mr. Li at its content reviewing factories. That is up from about 200 in 2016. They review and censor content day and night.
"We're the Foxconn in the data industry," said Mr. Yang, comparing his firm to the biggest contract manufacturer that makes iPhones and other products for Apple.
Li Chengzhi had never heard of the Tiananmen Square crackdown or the dissident Liu Xiaobo. But as a Chinese internet censor, he had to learn quick. A close look at a Chinese censorship factory. How they train their young censors. https://t.co/R73Z6DBWDV
— Li Yuan (@LiYuan6) January 3, 2019
A look at the rapidly growing censorship industry in China. To think that we once deluded ourselves into thinking that connecting everyone on the internet would lead to greater freedom. Instead, technology has become of the powerful against the powerless.https://t.co/Xsxmsu3ir0
— Roger McNamee (@Moonalice) January 2, 2019
I'm publishing a book in Vietnam and the publisher assigned me an editor who got a govt certificate in censoring. This story in China is strikingly similar to my editor's. Vietnam does learn from its big brother very well. https://t.co/WRITCKNJAU
— Nguyen Phuong Linh (@linhpnguyen) January 3, 2019
— Rupert Wingfield – H (@wingcommander1) January 3, 2019
"They didn't know things like June 4," he added, referring to the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. "They really didn't know." https://t.co/YzRfZpNPA2
— Kathleen McLaughlin (@kemc) January 2, 2019
I'd much rather be exposed to "problematic" opinions on a daily basis than live in a society where "censor factories" and "social credit" are a thing. https://t.co/dkIVqGOaCY
— Cam Edwards (@CamEdwards) January 2, 2019