Leading social media platforms have long used censorship policies to silence conservative voices. Now, they’re partnering with the Chinese Communist Party to silence dissidents who speak out against Chinese President Xi Jinping and his totalitarian policies.
Human rights activist and author Jennifer Zeng pointed out days ago that YouTube is censoring Chinese-language phrases that are considered to be offensive by the CCP. Several tests of the phrases made it clear that the fast deletion time could only mean that the social media giant had programmed its algorithms to take down posts every single time certain phrases are used, with no regard for the context it is used in.
Twitter has followed in YouTube’s footsteps, hiring Chinese-born AI expert Li Fei Fei as a new independent director. Dr. Li, who also works as a professor at Stanford, is known to have ties to a student association affiliated with the CCP. Chinese activists who took to Twitter to point out Li Fei Fei’s ties to the CCP found their accounts almost immediately suspended for questionable reasons.
YouTube’s and Twitter’s overtures to the Chinese government may seem odd given the fact that both social media outlets are banned in China. However, a quick look at Alphabet’s history shows that it is eager to get back into the Chinese market.
Indeed, Dr. Li worked at Google until 2018, and records indicate that she was in agreement with Google’s Project Dragonfly — a controversial project that would have created a separate search engine for China in line with Beijing’s censorship policies.
There are no indications that Twitter is trying to get into China, but the fact that it is a potentially lucrative market with over a billion users has almost certainly not escaped Jack Dorsey’s notice.
At the same time, even mainstream media outlets have pointed out that China is upping its game on social media by using outlets such as Twitter and YouTube to spread communist propaganda and favorable “information” about the CCP’s policies.
It’s a sad fact that over a billion people in China do not have freedom of speech or religion. Unfortunately, social media companies seem to think that totalitarian dumping on First Amendment rights should be standard policy, and are shutting down China’s critics at the CCP’s behest.
YouTube’s move to automatically censor phrases criticizing the CCP is unheard of; no other country or national figure gets the same treatment. Twitter’s move to hire Li Fei Fei is even more dangerous, as she has clearly shown that she is happy to use her new-found powers to shut down her critics.
Social media outlets are tumbling down a slippery slope as they increase the number of “banned phrases and topics” and suspend or demonetize users who dare to speak out.