Thought control (2.0) by YouTube

"In 'virtual' China, cyber police squads, as many as 30,000 according in one estimate,are patrolling Chinese cyberspace, deleting politically incorrect content in real time,blocking websites, monitoring networking activities of citizens, and tracking down andarresting offending individuals. Between May 2003 and June 2004, as many as 17 Internet activists were tried in China, which resulted in jail sentences as long as 14 years, making China the top country for jailing Internet activists."

Thus sociologist Yuezhi Zhao, in Communication in China (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008), notes the huge police force (likely to be huger still today) that keeps its Argus-eyes on China's cyber-traffic, to keep that oceanic chatter free of heresy. Such policing is overtas well as centralized, so that everyone in China knows of it, and people deal with it accordingly, in different ways.

We too are also subject to non-stop surveillance; but, here in the "free West," it'sactually far more effective than in China, because it's hidden and de-centralized—a joint project of thought control maintained both by state agencies (invisibly)and the corporate juggernaut of Facebook, Google, Twitter—and YouTube, whose  CEO, on 60 Minutes, openly discussed her company's quasi-Chinese practice, apparently with no qualms whatsoever. That YouTube has a force of "people andmachines" controlling content doesn't bother her—or Lesley Stahl, the journalist who interviewed her—because the content they forbid is "hate speech" and/or "conspiracy theory; and every decent person knows that such stuff shouldn't be allowed, whatever it may actually be saying.

The only cause for optimism (and the only funny bit) in this Orwellianinterview is Stahl's solemn reference to "reports that the 'monitors' are'beginning to buy the conspiracy theories'"—an indication that (a) such"theories" often are entirely sound, and therefore quite convincing, and(b) some "monitors" at YouTube are still capable of reasoning, much to the dismay of their superiors.

The major difference between China's cyber-thought-control and whatwe have in this "free country" is that actually arresting Western heretics,or dissidents, is still unusual (as in the case of Julian Assange); but that won't last, if we don't stand up and say "no," as we are (technically) still free to do. 


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