China Decrees That All News On Websites Must Funnel Through Government Approval

from the flailing dept

Fake news and hoax news stories are annoying, to be sure. I've been fooled a few times by hoax stories, as I imagine most other folks who do what we do have been. And, while the strategies taken by folks like Facebook haven't resulted in ending the scourge of fake news, I can understand the intent. There are probably better strategies out there, though they are harder to achieve. Strategies like educating the public on how to verify internet stories they see. Or instilling in people a healthy amount of skepticism starting at a young age so that they don't fall victim to every hoax out there. Or just sending around Snopes.com to all of our family members and demanding that they run any outrage through that filter first before bringing it to the dinner table.

The point is that there are good ways to combat fake news. Here with an example of a terrible way to do so is China, which is happily riding the annoyance at hoax news to the happy conclusion of further centralizing control of the internet through its government.

China’s powerful internet censorship body has further tightened its grip on online news reports by warning all news or social network websites against publishing news without proper verification, state media reports. The instruction, issued by the Cyberspace Administration of China, came only a few days after Xu Lin, formerly the deputy head of the organisation, replaced his boss, Lu Wei, as the top gatekeeper of Chinese internet affairs. The central internet censorship organ ordered its regional subordinates to fully fulfil their duties on the basis of content management, strengthen supervision and inspection, and severely punish fake news or news that deviated from the facts.

“All websites should bear the key responsibility to further streamline the course of reporting and publishing of news, and set up a sound internal monitoring mechanism among all mobile news portals [and the social media chat websites] Weibo or WeChat,” Xinhua reported the directive as saying. “It is forbidden to use hearsay to create news or use conjecture and imagination to distort the facts,” it said.

The facts as the Chinese government sees them, it should be said. And that's really the point of all of this. This isn't about hoax news stories; it's about the reporting of anything at all that would embarrass the Chinese government. This kind of censorship funnel would be horrific under any scenario and under any governing body, but given that the Chinese government lost its collective mind and went censor-crazy just because Lady Gaga met with the Dalai Lama, this law is like giving a life-eraser to an eight-year-old with a bad attitude.

In addition to the censorship by government clearly embedded in this new law, so too is there an attempt to chill anyone from actually speaking to reporters within the country.

“No website is allowed to report public news without specifying the sources, or report news that quotes untrue origins,” the circular warned, adding that the fabrication of news or distortion of the facts were also strictly prohibited.

And, just like that, you chill the water for anyone that might talk to a reporter, because that reporter is required to name his or her sources. It's a subtle bit of tyranny that's impressive for a government typically more ham-fisted than that.

Oh, and you'll never guess what excuse the Chinese government is trotting out to excuse this kind of massive censorship.

Officials say internet restrictions, including the blocking of popular foreign websites such as Google and Facebook, are needed to ensure security in the face of rising threats, such as terrorism, and also to stop the spread of damaging rumours.

Terrorism...and the spread of damaging rumors. I can assure you this law has only to do with one of those threats, and it isn't terrorism, and it isn't "rumors" the Chinese government is worried about.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, 12 Jul 2016 @ 10:30pm

    New world order

    I know this may sound like a conspiracy theory. But it seems like all the governments from around the world are trying to take over everything from the people... This is bad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    CanadianByChoice (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 10:31pm

    What this really is ...

    This is just the logical endpoint of the "right to be forgotten" ... a way to rewrite history ....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2016 @ 11:41pm

    Welcome to the Ministry of Truth

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jul 2016 @ 1:50am

    The only thing the Chinese government is scared of is the 1 billion chinese. If they start moving even the 1 million soldiers army will not be of use against such a stampede. Therefore the government will give the people as little as possible to get excited about. From government perspective logical, from democratic perspective outrageous. Then again, even though China is officially a people's republic, it never was about the people and Always about power (in this case through the communist party, before that the emperors and ruling classes). Chinese gov is still scared from Tiananmen and see it as a warning against any too liberal policies concerning criticism.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      GEMont (profile), 13 Jul 2016 @ 1:14pm

      Re:

      [Rant warning]
      ==============

      When you get right down to it, there is only one type of government on earth, regardless of the fancy label they each choose: democracy, oligarchy, dictatorship, communism, fascism, royal dominion, whatever - they are all there for the same reason and they all accomplish the exact same goals.

      And what is the true purpose of all governments?

      The short version:

      To make and enforce laws that insure the wealthy and their friends get the lion's share of the national capital output of the working population and that the population continues to work and make profits for the members of government and their friends, by insuring that working for a living will never make one rich, or even well off enough to cause trouble, through enforcement of these laws and with a little assistance from clandestine banking and economic manipulation by government members and their friends.

      And what is really cool, is that daily, Americans can watch and marvel at how their phony Democratic government shrugs off its now extremely thin facade of Champion of Freedom and Truth, in order to finalize the full conquest of America and the return to a Fuedal Utopia for the Fascist Billionaires of the USA.

      Cronyism is not simply an aspect of government.
      It is its main purpose.

      And remember, as mechanicals become more able to replace humans in the work force, humans become less and less useful to the fascists, and robots become more and more desirable as a slave labor force.

      Fascists absolutely drool over the notion of free, self feeding, self fixing, self reproducing mechanical slaves, as such would eliminate the horrid business cost associated with keeping a human labor force fed, housed, and healthy enough to work.

      As a population, Americans who are not millionaires plus and who do not work directly for a millionaire or billioniare fascist (minions), are about to be put on the endangered species list, because the wealthy American Fascists will very soon, no longer need their extremely expensive "services". :)

      Does the word "cull" ring a bell.

      ---

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 14 Jul 2016 @ 7:37am

        Re: Re:

        The best and most effective way to achieve that is to either rail against "global warming hysteria" while quietly ensuring that their own properties are protected against the onset of wacky weather events, etc. so that they're not the ones adversely affected, to whinge about Socialism whenever someone suggests a single-payer, or God forbid, a tax-funded health service, and to encourage the expansion of the right to bear arms so that civilians can obtain military-grade weapons.

        Why launch a direct assault if they can get us to attack each other and do the job for them?

        Excuse me, I'm off to buy more tinfoil for my hat.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          GEMont (profile), 14 Jul 2016 @ 1:58pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Actually you are exactly on target.

          Primarily, the fascists seek to install martial law, but in such a manner as makes it appear that the Government is simply doing what it must to return law and order to the streets and thus, remain "innocent" historically.

          What most folks do not quite understand, is that the fascists are doing everything they can think of to get Americans to "take up arms".

          They don't really care if its a racial war or religious war, or a war to "take back america", just so long as the people are armed and killable and they can install martial law without looking like the bad guys.

          Consider momentarily, just how much the Military Material Manufacturers of America are drooling, thinking about a Civil War - where their products can be deployed legally right here at home.

          Double their profit over night, as every Semi-Military Police Force in America dons their USAF RoboCop Gear, grabs their War Weapons and jumps into their new Surplus Military Assault Vehicles, ready and raring to kick unruly civi butt.

          The "anger" in America is at an all time high. Now if the forces of Evil can just push the civilians a little farther... its Party Time. :)

          ---

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jul 2016 @ 3:03am

    "fabrication of news or distortion of the facts were also strictly prohibited" So in other-words... No news will ever air in China. If only we could apply the same rules to Fox News. But on the bright side they will finally get rid of all mention of a certain square *Chinese troops bursting into the room*

    Nothing is wrong. Please go back to your life. Oh Look, there is a shiny Eevee behind you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 13 Jul 2016 @ 3:24am

      Re:

      "fabrication of news or distortion of the facts were also strictly prohibited"

      "fabrication of news or distortion of the facts were also a government monopoly"

      FTFY

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    art guerrilla (profile), 13 Jul 2016 @ 3:40am

    "Fake news and hoax news stories are annoying, to be sure. I've been fooled a few times by hoax stories, as I imagine most other folks who do what we do have been."

    'real' (sic) news and reality news stories are annoying, to be sure. WE have been fooloed ALL THE TIME by 'real' stories, as i imagine most other folks who do what we do have been.

    ftfy

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jul 2016 @ 4:56am

    If it is the official "government news" then it is propaganda.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 13 Jul 2016 @ 4:59am

    When the 'terrorists' are the citizenry then everything makes sense, no?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Whatever, 13 Jul 2016 @ 5:41am

    Now if only this website required government approval... Mmmm, I'm getting hard just thinking about it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Almost Anonymous (profile), 13 Jul 2016 @ 8:54am

    Different strategies

    It's funny, really. China's strategy is to control what gets "out" in the first place. USA's strategy is to just lie.

    Which is worse?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jul 2016 @ 12:12pm

    Firstee! The more you tighten your grip, Gov Tarken, the more systems will slip through your fingers.

    In Yo FAITH mo'fo!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 13 Jul 2016 @ 12:29pm

    Old Dog, New Tricks

    Well now.

    It looks like Old China can indeed learn a few new tricks from Junior America.

    Look who has selected the American Boogeyman "Terrorists", as their own new best excuse for every conceivable type of social freedom suppression imaginable.

    Way to go USA. You're still a world leader.

    ... in this race to the bottom. :)

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jul 2016 @ 5:11pm

    Perhaps the collapse of the Communist party will be preceded by a lie they can't hide.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jul 2016 @ 5:50pm

    same shit is happening in the US, just a different way, so get real

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Trump, 14 Jul 2016 @ 5:40pm

    China, China, China! I love China!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.