Can Online Censorship Really Work In China?
from the it's-all-propaganda dept
With so much focus being placed on Google’s recent moves in China, we’ve written about some of the complexities of the situation there — where we raised the issue of whether or not censoring the internet could ever really work. Contributing to that viewpoint is a fascinating story of an editor at a major Chinese publication who was able to spread the news of a new “incentive” plan at the newspaper, that would reward writers who were praised by government officials, and fine those who upset party officials. It won’t surprise many to find out that the guy who wrote the piece trashing the plan ended up losing his job — but the government backed down on the plan after it spread so fast across the internet that they were unable to make it “disappear” the way they had hoped. The story of how the story spread is certainly interesting, but even more interesting may be the story of how the government handles news censorship and propaganda — gathering the heads of various news organizations, telling them which stories to play up, and which to play down. Of course, there are many different ways of handling propaganda, and while the Chinese may focus on burying stories they dislike, they’d likely point out that the opposite may occur in the US, where we hear stories about the government trying to figure out better ways to spread propaganda. Of course, the lesson in all of this that should apply to both situations is that truth and honest opinions are what spread, and they do so naturally and (as much as possible) around barriers. Propaganda is tougher to spread if people don’t believe it — and truth is hard to suppress, once it’s out there.