​Why YouTube deleted Chinese comments ​

Wednesday - 27/05/2020 10:10
Google-owned YouTube is blaming its own algorithms for automatically deleting comments on videos that are critical of China.

Google-owned YouTube is blaming its own algorithms for automatically deleting comments on videos that are critical of China, a country where the site is banned from operating.

Users have reported their comments being quickly deleted after commenting the targeted phrases: at this stage it appears insults like “Communist bandit” and “50-cent party” are among the banned phrases.

According to The Verge, the phrases are quickly deleted if posted in Mandarin Chinese, though their English and Pinyin translations are not.

“This appears to be an error in our enforcement systems and we are investigating,” a YouTube spokesperson told the site.

The phrase “communist bandit” is a longstanding insult against the CCP, basically the equivalent of calling someone a commie or pinko.

The “50-cent party” comment is a colloquial name for online commenters believed to be hired by the Chinese government to talk it up online, the name a reference to the payment they’re alleged to receive.

RELATED: YouTube ‘sorry’ for mistaken deletion
 

 YouTube said it was a mistake made by the computers it uses to delete comments. Picture: Lionel Bonaventure/AFPSource:AFP
YouTube said it was a mistake made by the computers it uses to delete comments. Picture: Lionel Bonaventure/AFPSource:AFP


Posts on YouTube’s “Community” forum where people go for help when they can’t get it from the company indicate the deletions could have been going on for more than six months.

Some in the community forums indicated the same thing had happened to them, while others theorised the comments could have been deleted by the channel owner or deleted by an algorithm because it’s an insult or unhelpful content.

Others poked holes in that theory by pointing out YouTube regularly allows ethnic slurs and other insults in comments.

It appears the two terms have been added to YouTube’s automatic filters for comment moderation, which the company is relying on even more during the coronavirus pandemic thanks to a changes in the workforce.

Palmer Luckey, technologist and founder of virtual reality company Oculus (since sold to Facebook) raised concerns about the practice on his Twitter account earlier this week.

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YouTuber Jennifer Zeng also raised the issue a couple of weeks ago.

 

China criticism and the censorship of it is a thorny issue for tech companies, either seeking to preserve its access to the massive upwardly mobile market of almost 1.4 billion Chinese, or gain entrance to it in the first place.

Google has had several bites at the apple but currently its services are banned in China.

The company left China in 2010 after it became uncomfortable with pushes by the government to censor certain search results.

But it didn’t take long before members of the Maps and Android teams, as well as executives, were trying to push back into China.

Google’s former head of international relations Ross LaJeunesse wrote earlier this year that the company had tried to re-enter China through a censored search engine codenamed Project Dragonfly, which he was “alarmed” to find out about in 2017.

He added that throughout his tenure he and his team “continued to engage with product executives who were increasingly frustrated by the phenomenal growth in the Chinese market and pushed hard for our re-entry into China”, frustration he partially blamed for him being pushed out of the company.

RELATED: Facebook’s big free speech fail
 

 YouTube is one of several Google entities banned in mainland China.Source:Supplied
YouTube is one of several Google entities banned in mainland China.Source:Supplied


Apple has made billions off the Chinese market, where its iPhones compete with smartphones running stripped back versions of Google’s Android operating system without any of the company’s web services.

The company has also sought to build close relationships and avoid angering China.

Last year, following criticism from China’s state media, the company removed an app being used by protesters to avoid police in Hong Kong, one of a number of somewhat disputed regions with tense ties to Beijing that, along with Macau and Taiwan, the company refers to as “Greater China”.

A few days later Apple CEO Tim Cook was appointed chairman of the advisory board for Tsinghua University’s economics school in Beijing.

Chinese government officials and Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg previously served on the same board in the past.

Source:

 Keywords: Google, YouTube, China

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