The Chinese government currently employs around two million people to work as the online monitors who
censor and detain 16 year olds for ‘inaccurate’ Weibo posts ‘maintain social stability’ on China’s Internet, outnumbering the country’s 1.5 million active military personnel, according to a recent report by the Beijing Times via Quartz.
There is now an entire industry and profession dedicated to controlling—or attempting to control—China’s fast-moving social media world, where comments quickly go viral among the country’s 500 million internet users. The People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Chinese communist party is holding a four-day seminar this month where successful students can be certified as “public opinion analysts,” according to the Beijing Times report. Once certified, they’re eligible for jobs with China’s propaganda department, commercial companies, news websites or public relation firms.
Social media monitoring has been turned into a “money-making machine for local governments,” Guobin Yang, A professor of sociology and communications at the University of Southern California said.
Earlier, Reuters sat down with four former censors at Sina Weibo who described being underpaid and overworked while working under intense pressure as online monitors.
Most Sina Weibo censors are in their 20s and earn about 3,000 yuan ($490) a month, the former censors said, roughly the same as jobs posted in Tianjin for carpenters or staff in real estate firms. Many took the job after graduating from local universities.
“People leave because it’s a stressful dead-end job for most of us,” said a third former censor. […]
On an average day, about 40 censors work 12-hour shifts. Each worker must sift through at least 3,000 posts an hour, the former censors said.
Last month, China’s supreme court announced that any online rumor-spreading post ‘clicked and viewed more than 5000 times, or reposted 500 times’ could land its original author up to three years in jail.
[Image Credit: Jonathan Kos-Read ]