(Right Country) – YouTube has been automatically deleting comments that contain certain phrases written in Chinese which are associated with criticism of the Chinese Communist Party.
The reason, they say?
Just an accident.
“This appears to be an error in our enforcement systems and we are investigating,” the company told The Verge through a spokesperson.
They did not elaborate on how or why this error came about, but that it was not a result of any change to its moderation policy.
Or perhaps, like so many far-leftists in the United States, the tech giant is just more afraid of offending the one-party state than it is its own people?
The Verge explains:
But if the deletions are the result of a simple mistake, then it’s one that’s gone unnoticed for six months. The Verge found evidence that comments were being deleted as early as October 2019, when the issue was raised on YouTube’s official help pages and multiple users confirmed that they had experienced the same problem.
Comments left under videos or in live streams that contain the words “共匪” (“communist bandit”) or “五毛” (“50-cent party”) are automatically deleted in around 15 seconds, though their English language translations and Romanized Pinyin equivalents are not.
The term “共匪” is an insult that dates back to China’s Nationalist government, while “五毛,” (or “wu mao”) is a derogatory slang term for internet users paid to direct online discussion away from criticism of the CCP. The name comes from claims that such commenters are paid 50 Chinese cents per post.
These phrases seem to have been accidentally added to YouTube’s comment filters, which automatically remove spam and offensive text. The comments are removed too quickly for human moderation and are deleted even if the banned phrases are used positively (e.g., “The 五毛 are doing a fantastic job”). YouTube says it’s been relying more on its automated filters in recent months due changes to its workforce brought about by the pandemic.
What makes this whole thing all the more suspicious is that YouTube is actually blocked in China, so if they really are worried about exposing the Chinese people to anti-CCP comments, they shouldn’t be.
While the automatic deletion of these phrases was highlighted on Tuesday by US technologist and former Oculus founder Palmer Luckey on Twitter, activist Jennifer Zeng pointed out the issue back in May.
The Verge also found complaints on official help pages for YouTube which date back to October 2019.
#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
Google has frequently been criticized for accommodating the wishes of the CCP by censoring content. Most notably, it created a prototype search engine known as Project Dragonfly that complied with Chinese state censorship. The project, which was never deployed, is part of the company’s long-running struggles to enter the Chinese market.
When news of Dragonfly leaked in 2018 in a report from The Intercept, Google was criticized by politicians and its own employees for selling out its principles. During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in June 2019, the company said it had “terminated” the project and that it had “no plans to launch Search in China.”