Free Speech

by Tim Cushing


Filed Under:
censorship, china, fake news



China Uses US Concern Over Fake News To Push For More Control Of The Internet

from the literally-any-excuse-will-do dept

All this talk of fake news and the public's apparent inability to be trusted with the task of sorting the real from the bogus has now led to China introducing even more censorship. #MakeSuppressionGreatAgainAlso.

China's ambitions to tighten up regulation of the Internet have found a second wind in old fears - terrorism and fake news.

Chinese officials and business leaders speaking at the third World Internet Conference held in Wuzhen last week called for more rigid cyber governance, pointing to the ability of militants to organize online and the spread of false news items during the recent U.S. election as signs cyberspace had become dangerous and unwieldy.

As if China needed any more shoves in the direction of a more oppressive internet experience for its citizens. Following on the heels of a new "cybersecurity" law that did little to address anything more than the security of the government's self-image, China is now using the garbage-fire-on-wheels that was the 2016 presidential election to criminalize the dissemination of whatever news the government feels is "fake."

Ren [Xialing], number two at the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), recommended using identification systems for netizens who post fake news and rumors, so they could "reward and punish" them.

In the context of this sentence, "reward" and "punish" both sound like they have the same definition. Unless the government official is hinting that those spreading fake news stories more aligned with the government's aims will be given… something for their assistance in pushing the party line.

The United States has long been looked to as a free speech ideal, something other countries can strive for in their own governance. But countries opposed to those ideals are watching much more closely, looking for anything that belies the ideals the US government claims to hold dear. So, when President Obama suggests fake news is an actual threat to democracy, countries like China are going to use this to justify further control of citizens' communications and stricter regulation of news sources -- for the "good of the nation."

Fortunately, our own government seems extremely hesitant to get into the "fake news" regulation business, but that's not going to stop other governments from cherry picking dubious claims or statements originating from the "leader of the free world" to support their censorious actions.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 Nov 2016 @ 5:45am

    Any excuse works when you don't answer to anyone

    Not to say that China or other countries using US fearmongering to further their own goals isn't a real issue, but let's be honest, this is China we're talking about, they'd use the sun rising or someone sneezing as excuses to push for more control of their citizens and/or the internet.

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

    • icon
      wereisjessicahyde (profile), 23 Nov 2016 @ 7:10am

      Re: Any excuse works when you don't answer to anyone

      I was thinking the same thing. I don't even know why they bother to give reasons any more. They might as well just say 'look, this isn't a democracy. We are controlling this, and there is bugger all you do about it'

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

      • icon
        Seegras (profile), 23 Nov 2016 @ 7:35am

        Re: Re: Any excuse works when you don't answer to anyone

        Yes, weird eh? Why does the USA want to uphold the belief they're a democracy, when they could just say "look, we're a totalitarian oligarchy, we're doing what profits the ruling ones, and not our people, the most".

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

        • icon
          Roger Strong (profile), 23 Nov 2016 @ 8:31am

          Re: Re: Re: Any excuse works when you don't answer to anyone

          Rather than another cold war, the USA and China have reached a compromise. The two governments are slowly abandoning democracy and communism and are converging on authoritarian capitalism.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2016 @ 11:23am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Any excuse works when you don't answer to anyone

            That is fine and dandy ... until it fails, which is inevitable.

            Those that espouse such silly regimes usually end up with a civil war on their hands. Not to worry, that is a grand opportunity to enrich ones self with the "foreign aid" graciously sent by other dictatorships across the globe.

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

  • identicon
    WaitingOntheirRevolution, 23 Nov 2016 @ 6:37am

    China really hates free speech - period

    In related news
    Facebook has quietly built a tool to enable monitoring and suppression of posts based on location, to get back into China; Zuckerberg defended effort

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2016 @ 6:38am

    Manufacturing consent is harder to do when the manufacturing process becomes democratized.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2016 @ 6:50am

    Any news I disagree with is obviously fake!

    When living in a glass house don't throw stones.

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

    • icon
      timmaguire42 (profile), 23 Nov 2016 @ 9:22am

      Re: Any news I disagree with is obviously fake!

      I think that's Cushing's point. The Fake News scandal is itself fake, ginned up by the losers to avoid much needed soul searching. But Obama's stupid self-serving statements are not just the laughable whinging of a rejected president, they serves as fodder for authoritarian regimes wanting to suppress their own people.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2016 @ 9:24am

        Re: Re: Any news I disagree with is obviously fake!

        +1

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2016 @ 11:28am

        Re: Re: Any news I disagree with is obviously fake!

        "The Fake News scandal is itself fake, ginned up by the losers"

        This may be what you would like to believe but it is simply incorrect as there are plenty of fake news sites out there - are you disputing this well established fact?

        Example: Breitbart is propaganda or yellow journalism and as such is not real - or fake news.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2016 @ 3:47pm

          Re: Re: Re: Any news I disagree with is obviously fake!

          ABC NBC CNN NPR FOX are all propaganda too... and as such... not real news, or fake news. More people believe their lies than Breitbart...

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 23 Nov 2016 @ 7:00am

    Hmmm. I wonder if the Chinese Government is planning to follow their own concerns and stop producing fake news that downplay or even hide facts and events..

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2016 @ 7:08am

    State-sponsored news isn't automatically free from fake news.

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

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 23 Nov 2016 @ 7:45am

    Rachet

    Fake news is a justification for more control. And if they get that, and fake news goes away, that will be proof that more control is better and will justify yet more control.

    See, it's like a ratchet: it only works one direction.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2016 @ 9:15am

      Re: Rachet

      Agreed.

      ...and your reference couldn't be more appropriate.

      Noam Chomsky - Manufacturing Consent

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2016 @ 11:40am

      Re: Rachet

      Your allegation is without merit.

      Fake news exists because some humans are bullshitters and because other humans believe the bullshit without any question or attempt at verification.

      I find it interesting that many who refuse to accept a "proof" about one item claiming that all such endeavor is elitist and made up lies while at the same time proudly presenting "proof" about some another item - and they do not see it.

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

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 23 Nov 2016 @ 8:44am

    Huh. I don't see anything in Obama's statement particularly justifying control, not to say that he may not fall on that side.

    Control is a bigger threat to democracy than fake news. But fake news, more generally bullshit in its wider context, certainly is a threat to democracy. I see nothing controversial about that. But picking on fake news specifically doesn't even rise to the sense (which is like, none) of legislating specifically against phoning/texting while driving.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2016 @ 8:58am

    Not surprising

    They already banned sarcasm. Anything to try to cut down on covert channels of dissent.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2016 @ 11:45am

      Re: Not surprising

      Cutting down on covert channels of dissent will certainly solve the problem that sarcasm introduces.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2016 @ 9:07am

    'Fake News' Give me a break!

    The funny part about this entire ‘fake news’ debacle is that no one cared about it until the most corrupt and criminal establishment candidate in history, Hillary Clinton, lost because of a grassroots movement to expose her connections to the unscrupulous elite.

    Now, the "establishment" has seen the power of the alternative media and its ability to inject questions into the mainstream narrative — and they are acting on it by attacking so-called ‘fake news.’

    While it is undeniable that people will consume and spread false news and unproven conspiracy theories, the very idea that the mainstream media is attempting to silence the fake news conspiracy theorists — with their very own fake news conspiracy theory — would be the ultimate comedic act, if it wasn’t so dangerous.

    Because, as many of you might have heard, President Obama declared “fake news” — the problem that never was — a grave threat to democracy.

    Now we have a war on dissenting opinion with censorship and suppression hot on its heels, and an elected leader of the so-called free world touting the most undemocratic tactic in existence, censorship of the press — by essentially saying a free press threatens democracy.

    No one should be fooled by such totalitarian rhetoric — the only threat to democracy, to the leftover remnants of liberty we can still clutch, is a government attempting to control the boundaries of allowable thought.

    Our dear leaders in the US have exactly the same motivations for controlling 'fake news' as do China's dear leaders; censorship of dissenting opinion.

    Source/Source

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2016 @ 11:46am

      Re: 'Fake News' Give me a break!

      ".. no one cared about it until the .."

      No one cared to inform you of their concern ..

      ftfy

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2016 @ 9:08am

    Whaaaaatt???

    China is using our medias vapid calls for more censorship to validate their obsession with censorship???!!!!

    How could we ever had seen this coming???!!!!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2016 @ 11:48am

      Re: Whaaaaatt???

      Wait .. the media is calling for censorship?
      I call bullshit - who?

      It is the corptocracy calling for iron fist response to any resistance.

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

  • identicon
    Think of the Children!!, 23 Nov 2016 @ 9:26am

    Fakebork is the badguy here

    It's become like michel foucault had an acid trip, narrative has become the only thing that exists without facefark none of the false narratives could have existed to the degree that they do, propaganda is to easy with it, which is why DARPA funded it, shut down fakebook and replace it with some sort of reasoned social network like HATEBOOK has a good sound, stop letting the mentally defective have access to the tubes they are clogging them up since they don't know how to use Toilet paper

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2016 @ 9:51am

    Fake news and misinformation has existed in many forms. Why because it is in a news feed are citizens somehow less able to analyze it in the same way they do the National Enquirer on the supermarket checkout, a rumor, or email chain? Usually a glance at the URL is enough.

    This whole fake news controversy seems like a hysterical attempt to invent a cause to explain how people "voted the wrong way."

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

  • identicon
    Whutevah, 23 Nov 2016 @ 1:37pm

    I'm liking China better all the time!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Nov 2016 @ 10:09am

    No news about the police state in UK?

    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
Techdirt Gear
Show Now: Takedown
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.