The truth about Social Media in China can be summed up in one word-- controversial! Surprised? Hear me out!
Saying that the very topic of social media in China is controversial in itself is an understatement. Whether a communist country or a capitalist country, the government controls all aspects of life. Still, we are living in the modern age of technology. Hence, the first place where the Chinese government has cracked down is on the social media world.
The Truth About Social Media in China: An Introduction
To clarify, living outside of China, you will be familiar with multiple social media platforms. Examples include Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter. The whole world uses these platforms to share, view, and interact with the various forms of media.
This means that anyone can post their opinions no matter what topic it is. Thus, online content is sharable from anywhere globally; anyone can view, share and interact with posts. However, they don’t even have to search for it because of the algorithm-based explore pages!
What, you may wonder? China does not want its citizens to be aware of the latest news regarding democratic countries worldwide, their day-to-day lives, and how their governments operate.
Being a conservative socialist country, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) government works overtime to ensure that its citizens are entirely isolated from the rest of the world. Sadly, they've often ended up being vastly successful.
China's strategy to keep its citizens living away from the rest of the world is genuinely astounding. China is one of the most densely growing countries in the world. To be exact, most of its citizens are active internet users-- 730,000,000. Yet, the CCP has applied strict online policies without fight. As a result, they can redirect citizens from foreign social media platforms to locally formed ones.
This approach can be summed up with two vital results of the censorship discussed below:
Rein In The Public: Effectively Control Social Media In China
China is not a country that fools around. Not at all. Thus, when it comes to the information exposed to the public, it's all kept quiet and hush-hush. Everything is confidential. The public cannot enquire or ask unnecessary, poking questions. Unless they want to be fated to misfortune.
Maintaining a highly conservative socialist environment depends on keeping the people happy and looking away from other countries with democratic cultures.
The last thing China desires is an uprising of the people because of the chaos. The perpetuation of a strict check and balance system must be in effect. What is shared online is the government's way of keeping the people out of harm's way.
Consequently, the government keeps tabs on who is posting what. Secondly, they also keep an eye on the news. Therefore, only government-approved information is shared on social apps.
Domestic Companies Benefit Heavily: A Monopoly
For example, in 2016 alone, more than 42,000,000 new internet users joined this number of already active internet users. These new users amount to the total populations of Canada, and Costa Rica combined!
Therefore, saying that the CCP controls such a large country virtually is something. The citizens consuming the media created for them only benefits the country. In addition, this means that the domestic online platforms help heavily.
Alibaba Group, Baidu, and other online companies that are the only ones accessible to the Chinese people benefit from an alarming state. There is a massive number of Chinese public ordering from these platforms. Therefore, they have become the most successful online companies in China and in the world. This is very vital to note. This proves that locally, you can grow your economy if you pivot the freedom of your citizens by using censors and proxies.
The Question is Why: The Secret To Understanding Social Media In China?
China made its own social media platforms to keep a population of avid internet users occupied. Outlets that effectively replaced those made in foreign countries. As such, the Chinese party did this for several reasons-- mainly to keep its citizens in check. In addition, China has developed an incredibly sophisticated network tracking system. This system now demands any company owner to have a license to own a website.
This new crackdown on virtual online tracking has led China and its government to gain a vast amount of power over the normal populace. The government now knows who has posted what and from where. They know your location, and they know where exactly you are getting your information from.
What China is doing to its citizens is considered illegal in most parts of the world. No matter how authoritarian it may seem, the government cannot tap in to know the locations and whereabouts of their own citizens, no matter what they post.
In conclusion, China holds a monopoly on information within the country. The government controls all aspects of life within its borders. So, one starts to question themselves: Should leaders be as powerful and controlling? Furthermore, are the people really in danger when China's economy seems to be blooming day by day?
I think it's an urgent matter that deserves attention now. Before it gets too late before we reach a turning point.
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Edited By: Syed Umar Bukhari.