The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and censorship go hand-in-hand. The Xi Jinping regime is infamous for undertaking massive censorship drives which are aimed at culling anything that is anti-China. Joining them now in the censorship crusade is the global search-engine giant Google, as reports have emerged suggesting that YouTube- a Google-owned company is automatically deleting comments that contain certain Chinese phrases related to criticism of the country’s ruling Communist Party.
Palmer Luckey, founder of Facebook’s Oculus Virtual Reality (VR) in a tweet on Monday stated that YouTube deleted his comments made about the internet propaganda division of the CCP. The comments were deleted within seconds hinting that it was not done by humans and that YouTube had programmed its AI moderation to pick certain Chinese words.
YouTube has deleted every comment I ever made about the Wumao (五毛), an internet propaganda division of the Chinese Communist Party. Who at Google decided to censor American comments on American videos hosted in America by an American platform that is already banned in China?
— Palmer Luckey (@PalmerLuckey) May 26, 2020
Soon after Palmer came out with this tweet, other users also started sharing their part of the story regarding YouTube’s dubious moderation guidelines.
YouTube will also delete the ENTIRE chat replay from a livestream if a single person types the phrase 共匪, 五毛, or any of the other blacklisted terms critical of the CCP.
Might be disruptive if people typed these phrases en masse in all the popular stream chats. 🤔
— Ninja Logic (@Ninja_Logic) May 26, 2020
Alas this 'CCP friendly' censorship may have migrated to Twitter… If not now, then soon… https://t.co/ml5RyMehYf
— Dan B (@idannyb) May 26, 2020
Human rights activist Jennifer Zeng had also made similar discoveries in the middle of May that proved that YouTube was indeed hashing out anything anti-Chinese.
#YouTube "automatically" deletes a comment in Chinese, "Gongfei", which means "communist bandit", in 15 seconds.
This person tested 3 times, same result. #油管 15秒內自動刪除「共匪」留言，網友連試三次皆如此。
— Jennifer Zeng 曾錚 (@jenniferatntd) May 13, 2020
Although YouTube did show up with a clarifying statement but it merely tried to play down the whole incident. Speaking to The Verge, YouTube confirmed that censoring comments was happening but it was an error and a team was working to fix the issue.
A YouTube spokesperson said, “Upon review by our teams, we have confirmed this was an error in our enforcement systems and we are working to fix it as quickly as possible.
However, if the deletions are the result of a simple mistake, then this mistake has been going unnoticed for the last six months which again makes us question YouTube’s honesty. Reports of YouTube deleting Chinese phrases and demonetising anti-CCP videos had been detected as early as October 2019 when the issue was raised on YouTube’s official help pages.
Google’s ties with the CCP have long been under suspicion. The search engine was banned from China in 2010 but it has found a workaround-model to generate huge revenues from the communist country.
Google has seen a huge upsurge in revenue from China, powered by a wave of Chinese tech companies buying ads outside China to promote products like TikTok and the Alipay mobile wallet.
Advertisements from TikTok also explain why Google had deleted over 5 million negative reviews from the Google play store when TikTok’s rating had nosedived to 1.3 stars in India
According to news reports, Google’s revenue in Greater China, which includes mainland China as well as Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, grew by more than 60% to over $3 billion in 2018.
China’s domestic online advertising market is dominated by local ad platforms such as the e-commerce company Alibaba and search provider Baidu. But when Chinese businesses want to promote their products and services outside China, they use global ad platforms like Google and Facebook.
Emboldened by such huge revenues from advertisements only, it was reported that Google was developing a secret ‘censored version’ of its search app to launch in China. However, after the news broke out in public about the project, which was nicknamed “Project Dragonfly”, and Google faced massive backlash. This is when it shelved the entire plan to save its face.
Google’s revenue from Beijing is a reminder that the company has deep business ties to the world’s most volatile giant at the moment.
Billionaire investor Peter Thiel last year had accused the U.S. technology giant of working with the Chinese military and called for the U.S. government to investigate Google. One of Thiel’s other accusations was that Chinese spies have infiltrated Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) projects, but he did not provide any evidence.
Google under Sundar Pichai has been warming up to the Chinese and the aforementioned developments paint a very thorough picture that these censorship drives are not some random events.
The carefully orchestrated use of AI learning and manual moderation is being employed by Google to remove anti-China posts and comments. There have been reports of YouTube censoring Coronavirus related content too as such videos more often than not put the blame of the spread of the virus on the Chinese.
However, YouTube as usual hides behind the legally drafted disclaimer that such videos fall in the ‘sensitive topics’ category.
The American government should come down heavily on Google and announce an investigation to determine how deep the Chinese rot runs in the Silicon Valley company, otherwise, the Chinese influence will reduce the search-giant and its related companies into a mere puppet of the dragon and its sinister motives.