China: Government involvement in the system of digital media review

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Over the past 20 years, the field of Internet history has produced a complex body of research with a global scope. Empirical research in a variety of national and regional contexts has opened a broad understanding of the web, and of the decisions and contingencies that have shaped it. (Abbate, 2017, pp.8)With the development of modern science and technology, smartphones and online platforms are becoming more and more developed. People are gradually abandoning traditional paper-based media and choosing to move towards digital platforms. As a result, digital platforms are also growing at a rapid pace. Social media platforms also provide us with more opportunities to talk and interact with a wider range of people, so we speak mainly on online platforms. (Boyd, 2011; Varnelis, 2008) While social media platforms offer this convenience, they also bring with them many problems; while freedom of expression may seem beneficial, this is often accompanied by some pornography, obscene violence and illegal speech (Gillespie, Tarleton, 2017) so more digital platforms are deciding to censor the the content that is posted is censored.

Nowadays, website content auditing has become a requirement of some companies’ corporate related systems to check and process the content published on their websites. These checks mainly contain text, images, audio, video, programs, games, etc. In addition, in China, the basis for website content security audits is mainly derived from laws and regulations that have been enacted and from legal regulations issued by the relevant Internet content regulators. In terms of the necessity of website content audit, with the increase of Internet users, the latest “Statistical Report on the Development of the Internet in China” released by the China Internet Network Information Centre shows that the size of China’s Internet users has reached 1 billion, and the size of mobile phone users has reached 800 million. The rapid development of the Internet has led to the emergence of website information auditing, which has gradually developed into a new industry, from an auxiliary job to a more professional and independent job.

For digital platforms with a large volume of information, information auditing becomes a central task, with the quality control of the entire website being carried out by the information auditing department. This means that digital media companies need many information auditors to monitor the quality of the entire website and to play a key role in the orientation of the information on the website through the information audit process. In China, the importance of website content auditing is first and foremost to prevent online information crimes and to maintain national and social security and stability. With the rapid development of the internet and digital platforms, the easier access to information on the internet and digital platforms has given many criminals the opportunity to commit various crimes through the internet, including the sale of prohibited items, the provision of illegal services, the convening of mass events and various internet frauds. The second is to strictly control the security of information on the Internet and on digital platforms in order to facilitate the timely handling of prohibited information and to provide clues to the state security authorities. Ensuring the quality of information on the website and providing security for its development. Through the control of the entire website information, to ensure that the website presents high quality content, constantly improve the number of users of the website, improve the satisfaction of the website users, so that the value of the entire website is constantly enhanced. Finally, it is to continuously explore the value of the website and to provide feedback on the various opinions and suggestions. Through the continuous review of the overall information on the website, we can find out the rules of information changes and special information clues to provide the relevant data base for other departments, and through the analysis of the feedback from website users, we can provide the most appropriate suggestions for the development of the website.

Of course, such a stringent vetting mechanism for digital platforms on the Internet has also brought about some unavoidable problems. An overly stringent vetting mechanism will inevitably affect the normal development of modern culture. For example, Mo Yan’s “Bountiful Breasts” and “Red Sorghum” should not be allowed at all if they were new now and were to be read in the most popular way of promoting them on digital media platforms today, as these literary works involve too much information on a supposedly large scale. But because of this, and because of this strict censorship system, it can also lead to many similarly good writers, directors and so on not being seen by everyone because of these reasons. In addition, many online digital platforms now set thresholds for teenagers and minors to surf the web. But will this over-protective approach reduce young people’s ‘immunity’ to this kind of information as adults? Will this lead to a vengeful consumer mentality in adulthood? It is not difficult to find examples of this in China, where many teenagers are strictly regulated by their parents in high school, deprived of such recreational activities, and only trying to study hard enough to get into prestigious universities. But after they get into a prestigious university, they have their own mobile phones and computers and other electronic devices, which leads to them being completely addicted to their electronic devices and giving up their studies during their time at university, leading to their eventual expulsion. This is the opposite extreme of what over-management can lead to. Furthermore, overly strict control of mainstream digital media platforms can largely be a disguised incentive for the alienation and development of informal platforms. When mainstream digital media platforms no longer meet the needs of the masses, many people will resort to niche informal platforms which in turn promote the alienation of informal digital media platforms. Finally, there is a risk that such a strict censorship system will lead to a confusion of roles in human psychological development. The green web audit attempts to create a healthy and positive online environment for all, but the measures taken in each specific area are often simplistic and mechanical, turning into a status quo where it is better to kill a thousand by mistake than to spare one. This leads to a huge difference in the lives portrayed on the internet and digital online platforms respectively, which has the psychological implication of confusing citizens’ self-perceptions by making them believe that they should play a different role than they do on digital platforms such as the internet.

The internet has always been a part of society to help people navigate life within or between groups, but late modern society involves the internet becoming a more central form of organisation that transcends groups and constitutes a core organisation (Castells, 2000) However, due to the practical demands, there is a strict censorship of content posted on digital platforms. This has some degree of detrimental effects, but with government intervention this status quo is being accepted by the public and is on the right track. Only by capturing the entanglement of many comments in the emerging new myths of the social and political collective can we see the wider social and cultural forces shaping our political ‘representational space’ (Arendt, 1960) in the foreseeable future. Only by doing so will we be able to grasp more realistically whether digital networks are changing the conditions for political action and sustainable political choices. (Couldry, 2015, pp.608)


Reference list

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