Censored video chat
While China exerts direct control over news media, it appears to take a more hands-off approach with private companies.So companies are caught in this balancing act — on the one hand trying to grow their businesses and leverage new innovation, while on the other hand making sure they don't cross the line." Crete-Nishihata and his team downloaded the country's three most popular live streaming apps — YY, 9158, and Sina Show — and reverse-engineered them to extract some 19,464 keywords that trigger censorship within the services' chat features.Keyword monitoring and filtering — just one way the companies crack down on unwanted speech — works by embedding a list of banned terms within the application itself.
In fact, the lists of banned keywords varied dramatically."This suggested that there's no centralized list sent to the companies by government authorities," Crete-Nishihata said.You can browse the event-triggered keyword bans on Citizen Lab's interactive timeline.But those events were not censored equally across the three apps.
As live streaming apps surge in popularity in China, the companies profiting from the craze are pulling out all the stops to censor millions of users and avoid the wrath of a government intent on maintaining a tight control over the flow of information.A new report from the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs describes how China's biggest live streaming apps work to shut down discussion on everything from sex and gambling to political gaffes and government corruption.