For China’s censorship, the internet continues to literally be the gift that keeps on giving, providing it with a myriad of opportunities to enforce and “enhance” efficiency of state policies.
The latest such tool is a hotline that citizens will be able to use to report transgressions having to do with criticism of the ruling and only party in the country, the CCP, as well as the official version of the country’s history around a host of controversial and disputed issues.
This should not be surprising, because the Chinese authorities are always looking to further leverage the power of the vastly used and tightly controlled internet infrastructure to further their internal policies, viewed by many outside observers as totalitarian. And it’s also unsurprising because it comes ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CPP), when messages and narratives will have to be kept particularly “clean.”
In a very familiar way, where it concerns this type of society and state, citizens are often encouraged to report one another, but also anything else that would make life easier for the authorities enforcing various restrictive political and ideological rules.
The new hotline – in the form of a website but also an app – has been unveiled by China’s Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), with the internet regulator saying it aims at stopping the spread of what’s known as “misinformation” (something Chinese censors, to allow you to tell them apart from their counterparts abroad, call “mistaken opinions”).
“For a while now, some people with ulterior motives…have spread historically nihilistic false statements online, maliciously distorting, slandering and denying Party, national and military history in an attempt to confuse people’s thinking,” the announcement said. “We hope that most internet users will play an active role in supervising society…and enthusiastically report harmful information.”
Chinese internet users are urged to play “an active role” in stomping out any information and quite likely even debate that calls into question the truth as it has been defined by Beijing, and has to do with the Party and the country’s history – and help smoke out “malicious people distorting facts and confusing” others.
Now, Beijing is making it easier for anyone to play that role without the need of joining in social media mobs.