After the Chinese government announced intent to crack down on microbloggers and the social media platforms that they use, SEOs from around the world immediately noticed that support has come in from Chinese technology companies. The fairytale story would be that the large corporations came to the aide of the masses that make their platforms worth even a pound of salt. Reality is far different from fairytales unfortunately. In a move that everyone should have seen coming, China’s largest tech companies fell in line with the whims of the government and pledged to do their share to crack down on irresponsible bloggers.
To ensure accuracy of what is a delicate issue to so many, the following excerpt is from an article produced by Sui-Lee Wee on the situation:
“The heads of China’s largest technology companies have endorsed Beijing’s aim to intensify controls of online social media, pledging to “stop the spread of harmful information” on the Internet, state news agency Xinhua said on Sunday.
Some 10 top executives, including Sina Corp’s Charles Chao, Baidu’s Robin Li and Alibaba’s Jack Ma, participated in the three-day discussion that ended on Saturday in Beijing hosted by the State Internet Information Office, one of the country’s Internet regulators, Xinhua said.
China’s Internet companies and Internet operators have “reached a common agreement” that they would “conscientiously safeguard the broadcasting of positive messages online,” the report said.
“Resolutely curb the spread of rumors online, online pornography, Internet fraud and the illegal spread of harmful information on the Internet,” the report said.”
No matter what window dressing or spin this is given the bottom line continues to come back to one word – censorship. There is a general consensus around the world that certain issues need to be monitored online. Free speech is free speech in most regards – aside from obvious examples like yelling fire in a movie theater for no reason but to create a panic. China is not talking about censorship for the good of the people, they are censoring the masses to keep them uninformed. The less people know, the less they have to complain about and the less reason anyone has to challenge authority.
Activists from previous generations hailing from all corners of the globe have noted that the official Chinese statements use the buzzwords nearly all oppressive regimes have used when trying to keep the masses ignorant and quiet. They all talk about “removing rumors”, “irresponsible dissemination of information”, and “safeguarding” the exchange of information. Papa Doc Duvalier said much of the same as did Stalin and a noted German dictator from several decades ago. They didn’t censor the internet because it didn’t exist. They did however censor books, communiqués, and even acceptable topics of discussion in “open” forums. How is squashing any message that the government does not agree with any different when it comes to China?
The answer is that it is no different. SEOs know what censorship is as well as anyone else – and how dangerous it is. SMMs can already envision what these restrictions will mean to those plying the trade behind the Great Wall. Most of all the world knows where this leads - and shouldn’t overlook it just because they supply cheap slave labor goods that stock our store shelves.