China's Ministry Of Culture Joins Social Media, Immediately Inundated With 100,000 Hostile Comments
from the culture-clash dept
Here on Techdirt we've written numerous posts about China's progressive clampdown on social media, as it tries to control what is said, when, and by whom. That makes the following story in the Wall Street Journal unusual, since it tells of a move by China's Ministry of Culture to open things up by joining the popular social media platform Weibo. Here's the Ministry's first post there:
"Hello all netizens, the Ministry of Culture’s official Weibo account is now officially open! In the future, we will publish cultural policies and information here. We’re looking forward to everyone’s support and attention!"
It certainly got plenty of attention, but not much support, as the Wall Street Journal explains:
Three messages posted to the feed since Thursday afternoon had attracted over 100,000 comments a day later, most of them unfavorable or outright hostile.
There are a number of interesting points here. First, that the Ministry of Culture was so clueless about social media that it did not foresee this happening. Secondly, that the Chinese public are so desperate for some way of making their views known to the authorities that they seized on this new Weibo account, with dramatic results. Finally, as the Wall Street Journal article rightly notes, the comments betray considerable confusion about which Chinese ministry does what kind of censorship these days:
Many of those criticizing the culture ministry appeared to be under the mistaken impression that it was in charge of the widely reviled film and TV regulator. Later comments asked the ministry to post a message clarifying the different types of censorship undertaken by different government agencies, while others begged the ministry to convince the film and TV regulator to open its own Weibo account.
Given the experience of the Ministry of Culture, opening itself up to a massive criticism by joining social media is now probably the last thing the film and TV regulator plans to do.