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Global Times Responds to China’s Recent Online News Media Censorship

Chinese internet regulators have fined and shut down several major news site webpages this week for producing ‘original news reporting’. Chinese state-run Global Times newspaper’s columnist Shan Renping responds to the recent developments in the sphere of China’s online news reporting.

Manya Koetse

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Chinese internet regulators have fined and shut down several major news site webpages this week for producing ‘original news reporting’. Chinese state-run Global Times newspaper’s columnist Shan Renping responds to the recent developments in the sphere of China’s online news reporting and its censorship.

China’s State Internet Information Office (北京市网信办) has halted the activities of several pages of China’s online news sites for violating national guidelines on spreading online information. The portals were allegedly ‘too independent’ in their reporting. News of the recent censorship came out on July 25 on Chinese official news sites such as People’s Daily.

One of the sites that was closed this week is Sina’s News Geek (极客新闻). But sites run by other Chinese media giants such as Sohu, iFeng, and Netease also went offline this week, along with their social media accounts.

 

“Commercial websites have no other option but to face existing rules on news reporting in China – for their own good and that of the country.”

 

Shan Renping (单仁平), widely regarded to be the pseudonym of Global Times’ editor-in-chief Hu Xijin, dedicated a special column to the issue in Global Times of July 26. Global Times is a state-run Chinese news outlet under the auspices of the People’s Daily.

In his latest editorial, Shan argues that commercial websites have no other option but to face existing rules on news reporting in China – for their own good and that of the country.

“Stopping websites from violating existing guidelines is a sensitive issue”, Shan writes, “as many of these platforms have become used to breaking through the managing stipulations. [Because] in society, there are many people who see this as an expression of ‘freedom of press’.”

Shan explains this existing ‘freedom of press’ as follows: “In the case of China, websites are first developed; the managing regulations catch up with them later.” This means that there can be a time that these websites operate in all freedom before they are stopped due their violation of existing laws.

In the current situation, Shan says, the guidelines have since long been determined in the ‘Supervisory Stipulations for Internet News Services’ (互联网新闻信息服务管理规定). Yet some websites were in clear violation of the 16th article in it.

The 16th article states that websites set up by “non-News Work Units” are not permitted to do their own reporting. Instead, they are required to follow the news stories that are published by media outlets that are part of China’s official media system (HRW 2006, 19).

 

“Profit-driven websites often lack the “ideological complexity” that is needed in today’s China.”

 

Shan says that the rise of commercial news sites has drastically changed China’s media environment – bringing much more vigor, but also much more problems. Commercial news outlets often have many financial and technical resources to become leaders within their field, but are less pressured to bear responsibility for the news they bring.

For most of China’s traditional media outlets, social responsibility is a main priority, Shan writes, but this makes it hard for them to compete with the new commercial websites and their “sensational headlines”.

Shan argues that Beijing’s guidelines on Internet News should be upheld and monitored – they have been compiled for good reasons by people experienced in the development of China’s internet. Moreover, Shan writes, profit-driven websites often lack the “ideological complexity” that is needed in today’s China.

He continues: “The news business has a strong political character and a major responsibility. Its organization and development has its own rules and logic under China’s political system. Any explorations of its reform should be in sync with the reforms of the nation at large.”

 

“Just as the world has thousands kinds of butterflies, it also has different societies where freedom of press has different functions and meanings.”

 

“When it comes to the supervision of news, the West has provided us with a ready-made concept: freedom of press. [But] it must be noted that China’s development is systematically different from the West. It is very difficult to take out a specific concept by itself and maintain its value and balance across different systems. Just as the world has thousands kinds of butterflies, it also has different societies where freedom of press has different functions and meanings.”

Shan encourages those sites that have been shut down to look at the bright side: “This might also be a new opportunity. Reform always comes with some sort of force. The question is how to use this ‘force’ to your advantage and join it.”

 

“Can there be no existence of alternate voices?”

 

One commenter who calls himself a ‘Friend of Global Times’ fully agrees with columnist Shan Renping: “Although they are commercial websites, they are still Chinese websites and shouldn’t become a platform for anti-Chinese trends. If there are not properly supervised, the consequences might be very grave.”

Although on Sina Weibo, many netizens are seemingly not too interested in the topic, many also see the recent developments as a good thing as they are tired of “a messy internet”, with too much web pages with “advertisements for games or shopping, and vulgar porn ads”, and “rumor-starting”.

But not all netizens think alike. “What does this all solve?” one commenter wonders: “Does it just mean to go with the Party, listen to the Party, and that there can be no existence of alternate voices?”

All in all, a seeming majority of Chinese netizens seem to understand China’s recent media clampdown: “Right now there are some independent media that are followed by many people, and they’re not after the truth but after eye-catchers. But they still lead public opinion – which is just not good.”

– By Manya Koetse

References
* Human Rights Watch. 2006. “”Race to the Bottom”: Corporate Complicity in Chinese Internet Censorship.” Volume 18 (Aug).
* Shan Renping. 2016. “商业网站或应面对新闻监管顺势而为 [commercial websites should face regulations and treat them as an opportunity]” Global Times, July 26 http://opinion.huanqiu.com/shanrenping/2016-07/9225316.html [26.07.16].

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Digital

Cybersecurity Experts Warn: Flicking the V-Sign in Photos Could Give Away Your Fingerprint Data

V-sign selfie pictures could disclose personal information about your fingerprints, security experts warn.

Manya Koetse

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Our cameras are getting better, but that’s not always a good thing. Chinese internet security experts warn that peace sign photos could potentially be abused to collect fingerprint data.

The 2019 China Cybersecurity Week was held in Shanghai this week, and made it to the top trending topics on Sina Weibo today.

The topic attracting the attention of millions of Chinese web users is not China’s cybersecurity in general, but one that was discussed during the event, namely the potential privacy risks in making a V-sign on photos.

Chinese internet security experts at the conference warned that people are unaware that they could be giving away personal data information about their fingerprints when sharing photos of themselves making a peace sign.

If the side of the fingertips is facing the camera, and if there is not a lot of space in between the camera and the hand, it would potentially be possible to gather fingerprint data using photo enlargement tools and AI techniques.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez.

The deputy director of the Shanghai Information Security Industry Association stated that photos displaying a fingertop-facing V-sign taken within 1,5 meter of the camera could potentially disclose 100% of one’s fingerprint information, China Press reports.

A booth at the conference giving information about fingerprint information leaking through V-sign photos. Photo via China Press.

Criminals could reconstruct fingerprint patterns of other people and abuse them in various means – basically wherever fingerprint information is used to confirm people’s identities (e.g. biometric door locks or fingerprint payment scanning).

Besides not disclosing fingerprint information in photos posted online, experts also warn people not to leave fingerprint information at machines without confirming their purpose and legality.

Fingerprint scanning is used for a multitude of purposes in China. Foreigners who arrived in China since 2017 will also be familiar with the policy of collecting foreign passport holders’ fingerprints upon their arrival in the PRC.

On Chinese social media, the topic “Making a V-Sign Could Leak Your Fingerprint Data” is one of the biggest being discussed today. On Weibo, the hashtag has gathered 200 million views at time of writing (#拍照比剪刀手会泄露指纹信息#).

Some commenters advise people on social media to make peace signs with the nail side of the fingers facing the camera. (That gesture, however, is deemed an offensive gesture in some nations.)

The V-sign is often used as a rather non-symbolic or cute gesture across in East Asia.

Although in many Western countries, the symbol is mostly known as the victory sign (“V for Victory”) as used during World War II, it entered mainstream popular culture in Japan since the 1960s and spread to other Asian countries from there.

This Time article explains how the gesture appeared in Japanese manga in the late 1960s, one of them titled V is the Sign (Sain wa ‘V’ / サインはV).

Amid the concerned Weibo users, some are not worried: “It’s ok,” one commenter writes: “Using a Beauty App smoothes out my skin anyway.”

There are also many commenters who are confused about the news, wondering what advanced photo camera quality and AI technique might implicate for future privacy risks concerning face recognition data and iris scanning software (“Should we also close our eyes?”).

Others offer a different solution to the unexpected V-sign issue: “Just flip the middle finger instead.”

By Manya Koetse

The images used in the featured image on this page come from 追星娱乐说.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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China Digital

“Taobao Life”: This Feature Shows How Much Money You’ve Spent on Taobao

Some users just found out they could’ve bought a house with the money they’ve spent on Taobao.

Manya Koetse

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Over the past few days, a new Taobao feature that allows users to see how much money they have spent on the online shopping platform is flooding Chinese social media.

Taobao Marketplace is China’s biggest online shopping platform. Owned by tech giant Alibaba, Taobao was launched in 2003 to facilitate consumer-to-consumer retail.

For many people, Taobao shopping has become part of their everyday life. Whether it is clothes, pet food, accessories, electronics, furniture – you name it, Taobao has it.

Because buying on Taobao is so easy, fast, and convenient, many online consumers lose track of how much they actually spent on the platform – especially if they have been using it for years already.

Thanks to “Taobao Life,” users can now see the total amount of money spent on their account.

How to do it? First: go to Taobao settings and click the profile account as indicated below.

Image by whatsonweibo.com

Then click the top icon that says “Achievement” (成就).

Image by whatsonweibo.com

And here you find what you have spent in this account in total. On the left: the money spent, on the right: the amount of purchases.

Image by whatsonweibo.com

Since I’ve used started using this Taobao account for the occasional clothes shopping since 2016, I’ve made 122 purchases, spending 7849 yuan ($1140) – a very reasonable amount compared to some other Taobao users, who are now finding out they could have practically bought an apartment with the money they have spent on Taobao.

This user, for example, found out they spent over half a million yuan on Taobao ($75,500).

Image via whatsonweibo.com

This user below has spent over 1,1 million yuan on Taobao ($170,000).

Some people discuss all the things they could have bought with the money they have spent on Taobao over the years: “As soon as I saw the number, I wanted to cry,” one Weibo user writes: “What have I done?!”

Another person, finding out they have spent 230,000 yuan on Taobao ($33,400), writes: “This can’t be true! Surely this must be a mistake!?”

“If I wouldn’t have spent all this money on Taobao, I would’ve been rich,” others say.

The topic of Taobao’s total spending amount has become so popular on Chinese social media this week, causing so much consternation, that Taobao posted a message on its Weibo account on July 27, writing: “We heard you guys couldn’t sleep last night..”

Although many people are shocked to find out the money they’ve spent on Taobao, others console themselves with the thought that adding up everything they have spent on Taobao, they were actually ‘rich’ at some point in their lives.

 

By Manya Koetse , with contributions from Miranda Barnes

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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