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We Chat, They Watch (citizenlab.ca)
1417 points by hardmaru 30 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 512 comments



Also a thread by Citizen Lab researcher: https://twitter.com/jsrailton/status/1258391908319137797



Looking at the comments I think that most of commenters missed an important point. It's not just that the app is tracking users, but the messages sent by any non-Chinese user help the regime censor the content for Chinese users. In other words, if you use WeChat, and you send a photo of something that happened in Hong Kong along with some text that explains it, then you actually help Chinese authorities to censor this photo in China.

> Upon analysis, files deemed politically sensitive are used to invisibly train and build up WeChat’s Chinese political censorship system.

Also I think it's super cool how they did the research.


I use WeChat to talk to friends in China, (I live in HK) and I noticed that last year, especially when the protests were intense, many of my posts just didn't show up. These were mostly pictures unrelated to the protests. I had the sense that anything coming out of Hong Kong was just hidden by default.


lol, this is nothing new and nothing special. There are some words that just dont go through and messages dont arrive. I lived there and tried it with friends. You literally stand next to each other, some messages arrive, some dont.

For me it is not a big deal - for most Chinese it is not a big deal. Somehow most people who never touched Wechat it seems to be a big deal.


You don't think censorship is a big deal? That's exactly the reason why their government gets away with it, because people see it as no big deal.


But muh private companies...

WeChat is owned by the 'private company' Tencent. And most here think it's perfectly valid when Facebook or Google censor things they don't like. I'm sure you think that Google is a real private company, while Tencent is not. But the difference isn't really all that valid anymore; the US government has backdoors and special access to our tech behemoths, just like the Chinese do for their tech companies.

Maybe it's not such a good idea to cheer for Google, Facebook, and the other companies when they censor whatever it is you currently dislike politically. Do you naively believe they'll not someday censor you, too?


I dont believe anyone here is cheering much for any companies based in the advertising capital of the world.


Not a big deal in terms of having been normalized. Ofc it's bad.


> That's exactly the reason why their government gets away with it

So it's not the death camps then? Hmmmm... I must say that I remain totally skeptical as to your assertion.


You can list any number of things, but we were talking about censorship, so I don’t see the need to throw another subject into the mix.


I think your parent is arguing that they use the threat of the camps to back up their censorship.


> I think your parent is arguing that they use the threat of the camps to back up their censorship

I am indeed. But of course your use of the term "threat" might imply to some readers that it is not a reality for those poor souls... I would substitute "hellish reality".


Thanks for clarifying, but I still don't think this is relevant to the current discussion. This is probably another discussion as to why people allow censorship, one reason could be the punishment, but there are probably many other reasons.


If what the gov is doing (ostensibly) makes them rich, e.g. they can afford cars and condo prices double every few years, them yes, the majority of people doesn't care.


Look, I've spoken to this to my friends in China about this before, and I can understand that to them it's okay, they've seen their lives improve over the past 10 years. And I understand why they feel that way, they've never known anything else.

But anyone coming from the Western world, and agreeing with what their government is doing in terms of censorship, that I can't understand.


China has a long cultural history of being relatively more wealthy than everyone else. But in absolute terms though they've just had a huge amount of technological progress dropped on them. Something like 3+ generations in of progress in Europe compressed into a fraction of a generation in China. And they look like they are regaining their traditional place as a world leading power.

India will eventually show them eventually up as having an inferior political model but on balance I can see how an evidence-based person would conclude that China's government is working well, on the basis that it presided over the fastest leap forward in living standards in human history. I'd still rather live in Europe, India or America though.


>India will eventually show them eventually up as having an inferior political model but on balance

I doubt it. If anything India's system is less effective, equally or more corrupt, and downright barbarous in some social aspects (e.g. castes). Plus the rampant inequality which is much worse than China.


Democracy and rule of law usually start to have an advantage over authoritarianism when you surpass an annual GDP per capita of about 5000 USD.

So, on the long term, I am optimistic that India will catch up. Especially now that the USA is moving away from China as "work bench".

I hope we here in Europe will follow that policy, too. It just makes much more sense to support an emerging democracy than to support a facist regime.


> Democracy and rule of law usually start to have an advantage over authoritarianism when you surpass an annual GDP per capita of about 5000 USD.

Singapore disagrees.


In what sense? Singapore is a democracy. They have a high GDP per capita. They have a very strong rule of law and little corruption. I wouldn't necessarily want to live there but it is one of many democratic countries that looks like a much better bet to live in than China.


https://thediplomat.com/2015/02/soft-repression-the-struggle...

They simply bankrupt the opposition through lawsuits and void their candidacy. That is not a functioning democracy.


Have you not been following the news where India just elected a facist leadership and had numerous deadly race riots supported by their government? Try checking your ideology with reality sometimes.


There is a difference, I would think, between a country going through a "bad period" of preferring totalitarianism, usually in response to pressures of economic and social inequality (e.g. Germany in the early 1900s; several middle-eastern and central-american countries today); and a country whose populace maintain deeply-held beliefs that have caused them to maintain a totalitarian leadership style over decades/centuries with no sign of changing (China.)

Though, I mean, part of that difference is that the rest of the world feels uncomfortable with sudden shifts like India's, and so usually gets together to trade-sanction the problem away so that things will go back to the way they were (which might cause the country to lash out, at which point it becomes a World War); while, on the other hand, the international community is so used to "the way things are" with countries like China, that they don't do anything.


Please be less racist.


The coronavirus disagrees with you.


No, it doesn't.

See, I have the better argument!


I can see how an evidence-based person would conclude that China's government is working well

Indeed, in the 50’s and 60’s it seemed plausible that the economies of North Korea, Cuba, Russia, the DDR were all going to surpass their Western counterparts before long. The wheels started to come off in the 70’s and by the 90’s it was all over for them.


But these countries were isolated from the world in terms of technology, economy and influence. China, on the other hand, is a country the West depends on both for production and profit, and has not closed off itself to anything that can help it stay on top. From a state of pariah, it rose to superpower status, and there is no real competitor to take its wheels off - the western companies and governments are the first to rush and make business with China, instead of beating it at its game like they did with the rest of the communist countries.


But these countries were isolated from the world

Do you not realise just how large the Communist world was back then? The USSR alone was vast. Now China and North Korea are all that’s left.


Snowden basically told the Western world how much access to their online data governments have, but people don't seem to care. Yet, they care that China does it for some reason


You can have those things without the oppression. Correlation doesn't equal causation.


You're right that correlation does not equal causation, but it doesn't have to be for those folks to not care.

Having lived in Singapore, Hong Kong (current) and China, I can tell you that in Singapore's case, folks are aware that they live under a semi-dictatorship, that their government controls all media (radio, tv, everything is state-owned). But they always say "but I guess the government is doing a good job".

One has nothing to do with the other. The government can do a good job without the dictatorship, but it's the way folks rationalize their helplessness, their sense of lack of control over their fate.

This is also why we in Hong Kong ARE fighting against these kind of controls, probably in vein, but I for one do NOT want to resign in rationalizing for the government's over-control without a fight.


I've lived in Singapore too. Its mighty oppressive in that I found myself self-censoring on occasion but you can't compare it to the dystopia China has become.


"compare it to the dystopia China has become."

Just out of curiosity, what times are you referring to, when china became dystopian?


If you have to ask you haven't been paying attention


So ... apparently you mean the recent events?

Well, have you ever heard of the tiananmen place?

Or ... the "cultural revolution" from Mao himself?

Or the cleansing events after the revolution?

Or, ... before the red revolution, years of bloody civil war, with ruthless warlords taxing even dying of their underlings, or general things in old china like child towers outside of town, where the unwanted babys were thrown to die, so their souls did not haunt the houses of the living?

In other words, you have been sleeping before(or did not bother with china at all), if you only consider the current events the strong ones, that qualify for dystopia.


I know enough about China's history but am by no means an expert. All I can say regarding your examples is that, yes they are very disturbing, however technology has changed the game considerably. Perhaps techno-dystopia would have been a more accurate characterisation.


Yeah, is there any information on why the Chinese government feels like they need the censorship?

As far as I can tell they are the most successful government at least in modern history in terms of increasing living standards (huge GDP growth and even things like being the only country to successfully almost eradicate SARS-CoV-2), so it seems they would keep power even in a fully functioning democracy with no censorship since they are so good.

Then maybe the censorship is actually integral to their success as it reduces the time wasted on going in directions different from the government's one and possibly boosts morale and happiness?


They conducted an extensive historical study of what happened to the Soviet Union and decided to avoid that.


Bullshit! Taiwan started in the same state as the PRC communist dictatorship and they have progressed much more economically than China, their GDP is much higher.

Also culturally and from a human rights perspective Taiwan blows the chicoms out of the water.

Taiwan shows what China could have been if they would not have been taken hostage by the communist chinazis.


It took them forty years to deliver the democracy the 1947 constitution provisioned.


I don't think anyone's saying oppression is necessary, merely that bread and circuses have always been enough to placate the masses. Nobody revolts on a full stomach.


I would consider it a grotesque violation of my freedom if some powerful organization prevented me from privately saying what I wanted to my friends and other acquaintances.

Yes, there is some of this in the U.S. due to chilling effects from mass surveillance. I find it abhorrent. However, actively filtering and blocking messages is even worse.


This coronavirus has made the people believe the gov is the best on the planet, since every other country is struggling with their freedom and rights, or as they are being told.


Yes protection of the subjected is a common justification for censorship. The reasoning is not completely wrong, just incomplete. How incomplete? One can't know under active censorship.


Huh that's interesting because the lack of regulation and proper enforcement of said regulation of wet meat markets is what caused this in the first place.


Not if you believe the US government, which says that it actually came from a lab in China.


One of the few bio safety level 4 labs in the world, but it's not simple as pointing a finger at a lab alone.

The University of Wuhan and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have worked collaboratively on research on a SARS like novel coronavirus found in Chinese Horseshoe bats back in 2015 [1].

The research, as noted on the bottom of the report, was funded by grants from National Institute of Health (under Anthony Fauci's leadership), US AID Emerging Pandemic Threats program and other funding sources, including many US based researchers.

[1]- https://nature.com/articles/nm.3985


It's worth noting to others that USAID is often used as a front by three-letters.


This is the issue with an authoritarian government that kills dissenters.

It's very likely that it originated naturally from a bat or other animal and made it's way into the wet market. But the government denying denying early on, the doctor blowing the whistle early on that is now dead, and the shut down of research coming out of China into the origins means that information about the virus can never be taken one hundred percent seriously.

Trump and his administration lie constantly about his response, but there are journalists and people he has fired (as opposed to have killed, disappeared, thrown out.a window, etc) that can put together evidence about what is going on with the virus and other issues in the US.

I absolutely have no faith in the Chinese government ever letting any information out that one of their labs was the cause of the globe pandemic if they were.


Which if true would also likely be due to lack of proper regulation and enforcement.


Trump and his circle are not the US Govt.


Then why do you have him sitting in that government office?


Because he's the President. That doesn't make him, or Congress by itself for that matter, the "government" in a general sense.


The intelligence agencies have been clear there is no evidence of that. Do not confuse the US government’s position with the rantings of an old orange racist.


There is evidence pointing to cleavage:

https://youtu.be/R6y8dlhoMpo


A YouTube conspiracy video is not “evidence” give me a break


Hmmm. I think most people believe coronavirus is very dangerous to their families and communities.


Yeah I agree that most in China don’t think much of it (or often don’t even realize censorship is happening on their exchanges). But it’s still tragic. And I’m happy to see Silicon Valley come to its sense regarding WeChat. A few years back, VC’s were tripping over each other to sing the praises of WeChat and how much better it made China with its mobile payment and mini apps.


> Yeah I agree that most in China don’t think much of it (or often don’t even realize censorship is happening on their exchanges). But it’s still tragic.

Hm... Why is it tragic? Simply rephrase it: most Americans do not even realize there is censorship". Is it tragic? If yes then for whom? Probably not for them but rather for external observers.


It's tragic for people being censored, and worse, like public humiliation and jail, depending on what's been shared.

That's an objective assessment. It is tragic for those people, whether anyone else cares.


I don't have to use WeChat to know that it would be a huge deal for me if messages were censored. Not only does this conflict with my sense of privacy and freedom, but it would also be annoying apart from the censorship aspect, simply because some of my messages won't get through. That's the main purpose of a messaging app. If my friends don't receive my messages just because I happen to mention something that seems connected to HK protests or the Tiananmen Square Massacre due to some word or number matching, that would mean the failure of WeChat as a messaging app.


I never have this issue with other messaging apps and if I did I would use a different app. Ignoring the censorship part and taking this poor quality at face value its like saying its no big deal your car brakes don't always work.


Lol my government speaks on my behalf, and is directly controlling my thoughts and perspectives via my information feed but it's nbd.


Looking at comment history you seem to really be on the defend China bandwagon. Why is that? Also have you surveyed the chinese population to see if its not a big deal that wechat messages get censored?


I am a Chinese, and I care.


Promoting the idea that no one is complaining because of apathy is an interesting strategy.

"We didn't censor, people jusy don't care".


For me it is not a big deal - for most Chinese it is not a big deal. Somehow most people who never touched Wechat it seems to be a big deal

Sure, because on most Western messaging platforms these days losing a message is pretty rare. It’s not a problem on WhatsApp for example. It’s rarely a problem even with SMS. So either the technology is really shoddy or messages are being blocked, which explanation would you prefer?


I hope you are being sarcastic


Many Chinese-Americans have no choice when they need to communicate with family and friend living in China. No outside communication tools allowed in China.


Outside of China, we're pretty lucky that we can just register for random sites like HN with nothing more than a username and password and start talking.

Every Chinese site I've ever used requires phone number or ID verification. Most of them only allow Chinese-registered phones, meaning it's absolutely impossible to communicate with Chinese people from the outside world, aside from a very small number of carefully vetted services like WeChat.

But I fear the rest of the world looked at China and thought, "Wow, we should've done that a long time ago!" Accounts I registered about a decade ago now demand I confirm an email and sometimes a phone number. Email accounts I've had half my life lock me out unless I link it to my phone number and prove my identity. Some services ask for a fucking ID card scan, which prompts me to just drop the service. Some things I've used in the past only accept US phone area codes, which having left the US, means those services are now completely inaccessible to me.

China says it's for state security. They're at least kind of honest that their intention is to keep the population in check and watch their every movement. The rest of the world says it's for personal security. Then another day passes and another heap of phone numbers, names, SSNs, and addresses leak and another identity is stolen.


We will give our freedoms away in name of preventing toxicity and hate speech. Won't you feel good you are helping squash bigots by giving your PII away


>We will give our freedoms away in name of preventing toxicity and hate speech.

(I spent a good few minutes trying to come up with a politer response than the following. I failed.)

Bullshit.

I keep seeing this “free speech” slippery-slope claim. It’s simply not true. I don’t know of a single mainstream or even semi-mainstream us or eu-based site that demands PII to stock “hate speech”. They ask for two main reasons:

1. Money. A confirmed “real” user is worth more.

2. Anti-abuse/spam. The sites are tired of dealing with bots.


I can't speak to websites, but I can speak to community discords that have 10,000+ users where hate speech prevention is the reason that you have to provide proof of identity.


I have been on several such discord channels. In the ones I’ve been on, they got tired of people spamming nazi shit or the n-word over and over again, in addition to other forms of obnoxious spam. This isn’t so much an anti-hate speech protection as a general anti-abuse protection


There's not a single social network that has begun to require phone verification because of the risk of "toxicity or hate speech". It's all to fight spam and to better track user activity (and, if we're being charitable to them, perhaps to stymie deliberate propaganda/fake news).


This.

A service I built+run started getting overrun with bot users. The signup CAPTCHA didn’t help because they’d sign-up for accounts using humans - then after that’s done they’d copy their access tokens to the bot users. We couldn’t use a CAPTCHA for every operation on the platform.

But by requiring a real phone number that we verify (by placing a TTS phone call - not an SMS - as processing received TTS calls is much harder for the bot makers to automate) - but also looking-up the phone number’s SS7 info to prevent people from using Skype, Google Voice, and Twilio users - all commonly used by bot operators.

(Legitimate users that want an account but can’t make it past our bot screen can still contact us directly to be set-up - and to-date no-one has done this or complained about the (admittantly user-hostile) verification process.


I don't know what your service is but I simply wouldn't be able to use it as my only phone number is Google Voice.

It's highly likely that prospective users just leave when encountering your restrictions and having their phone numbers rejected.


It’s a B2B service (“B2SB”?) - not targeting people/consumers - so it’s reasonable to assume they have a real phone number.


> it’s reasonable to assume they have a real phone number

Just an anecdote, but I rarely give out my non-Google Voice number on sign-up forms. I don’t want my mobile in a database to be spammed.

If a phone number is required on sign-up, and my Google Voice doesn’t work, I usually pass. Whether for personal or commercial use.


I run a business. Why is it reasonable to assume the use of legacy phone numbers?


We target a particular subset of retail-customer businesses which all generally have a phone-number.


It's not reasonable. Voice is the only phone number I use and I use B2B services. If you prevented me from signing up I'd go to a competitor.


Which mobile carriers do you support, if not Google Fi (which is mine)? Or only landlines (which barely exist at my day job)?


My last position was for a b2b voip telephony replacement type of deal. It would be trivial to load up on real geographic numbers from anywhere in the world and automate it all for bots.


I despise services that require to have a real phone number. Being locked out of something when you travel, have no reception, lost your phone or got it stollen is just a pain. Bonus hate points for banks that implement a sms code check for online payments with your visa/mastercard (common in France at least). I changed bank for one that provided me with a device generating one time codes from my CB


It’s only used for sign-up/registration in my case.


Goddamn Paypal MFA


> but also looking-up the phone number’s SS7 info

Does that really work? I'd like a service like that for my personal phone.


Truecaller is the easiest way to access this data for consumers. https://www.truecaller.com/. The two commercial data providers for this are Telesign and Neustar.



> There's not a single social network that has begun to require phone verification because of the risk of "toxicity or hate speech". It's all to fight spam and to better track user activity (and, if we're being charitable to them

I think that _is_ being very charitable. Way too much in fact.

The thing with Chinese censorship is that people living under it either don't care about it or are fully aware of it. It's very much in the open.

On the other hand, Facebook/Instagram, Microsoft, Google, etc all start requiring your phone number for verification or some other valid reason, reeling and locking you in, and before you know it not only one entity but any entity willing to pay for your data has access to it.

We should of course be outraged at both approaches.

Also, is removing fake news/propaganda not censorship solely because it's not the government doing it? Because if that's the case, Facebook and Google only really started removing fake news _because_ governments started to apply pressure on them.


Well: newspapers use Facebook for comments and used toxicity and hate speech as explanation for why they went away from their old systems.


> It's all to fight spam and to better track user activity (and, if we're being charitable to them, perhaps to stymie deliberate propaganda/fake news).

Who is that being charitable to? The Chinese government also censors to stymie deliberate propaganda; it's just that in their case we typical HN posters happen to be on the side the propaganda that is being censored is for, whereas in our case we are on an opposing one.

I'm not convinced by the usual counterargument that "China blocks true information whereas we block fake news". There doesn't to seem to be anything qualitatively different between a cartoon of Liu Xiaobo ascending to heaven from a Chinese prison and most of the examples on https://www.cbsnews.com/media/russian-ads-on-facebook-a-gall... (which I assume is meant to be a sample of deliberate propaganda that we want FB to block); both tend to contain some kernel of factual statements that are probably not contentious (you can probably get official documentation that Liu was jailed and died in China, too), but the point is not in this content but in an exhortation that the reader should feel about them in a particular way and translate this feeling into support for a particular political movement.


>Won't you feel good you are helping squash bigots by giving your PII away

That doesn't enter the equation for what I would imagine is 99.99% of users.

It's the erosion of privacy in the name of a) "Safety"

and

b) convenience

The average person of the world has shown that they will trade virtually anything for the perception of convenience, or "safety".

Look at the most recent gun ban in Canada for an obvious example; An act riddled with nonsense, already acknowledged to be completely ineffective at preventing gun crimes, pushed through by a minority government during a pandemic to the applause of a large part of the populace there in exchange for the false perception of "safety".

The most frightening thing is just how effective it is.


Yes, the ban may not be perfect, but as a Canadian, I can say unequivocally: I don't need perfect to be the enemy of good. There's no reason to possess these weapons any more than there's a reason to possess nuclear warheads.

The next bill can ban more, fix the bugs, etc, but the flag has been planted: there's no room for those weapons in Canada.

A huge number of people have wanted to ban weapons like these since Ecole Polytechnique [1] -- and probably much further back. We've been lucky to have few enough such mass murders to remember many by name, and it also makes them horrifying enough that we're not going to sit back and pray the crime away. The Liberal Party (currently in power) ran on banning these weapons. Then they banned the weapons. They did the job they were elected to do.

I don't think that's a good example tbh.

[edit] Let's be super clear when you say "pushed through by a minority government during a pandemic" -- you're seeming to imply that the minority is somehow strong-arming the majority. That's the exact opposite of how that works in the Canadian parliamentary democratic system. A minority government is in a very weak position and can be removed at any time. If this was at all controversial the next confidence motion would be swiftly defeated and the government would fall. A minority government wouldn't do something like this without absolute confidence.

Unlike a majority government a minority government must rule by consensus or face immediate removal. I think they normally don’t even make it past the 3 year mark.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/École_Polytechnique_massacre


I'd suggest that you ought to be more concerned about rights and privileges that you don't necessarily value personally (or even see as causing a problem).

If you extrapolate what's been happening in China regarding the internet to electronics in general and the rest of the world, the logical extreme is total surveillance, internet censorship, and eventually loss of direct control over the devices that you own. (Only a terrorist or dissident would want to install their own OS!) (Sideloading? What's wrong with the app store?) (Who needs admin anyway?) (Tor? Isn't that the network run by all the sexual predators?)

Only a cultural norm of protecting all possible personal rights at nearly any cost, even those you don't personally value or agree with, is likely to successfully stand against such an outcome. The reason is that any particular person isn't likely to make use of (or even feel strongly about) most of the rights and privileges available to them. Put another way, it's your job to protect your neighbor's rights and your neighbor's job to protect yours.


I’m a Canadian and I find that absolutely the opposite.

1. > I don't need perfect to be the enemy of good. There's no reason to possess these weapons any more than there's a reason to possess nuclear warheads

Slipper slope don’t you say? Quite a lot of guns on that list were not even available in Canada or would be available. Furthermore, we have some of the strictest gun laws around.

What you said above to me sounds like we also need to just ban McDonalds and others from Canada too - considering obesity kills more Canadians than gun deaths no?

2. > The next bill can ban more, fix the bugs, etc, but the flag has been planted: there's no room for those weapons in Canada.

Have you by chance gone throw the process of getting a PAL? Our issue is not responsible gun owners - it’s the access to illegal guns coming from south of the border and this bill did absolutely nothing to stop it. It was political theater at the end of which a minority of citizens were affected (and they probably didn’t even vote in for the Libs anyways)

> it also makes them horrifying enough that we're not going to sit back and pray the crime away

By not dealing with the influx of guns from the south - we are literally doing JUST that further more at the cost of law abiding gun owners too.


Re 1: If McDonalds were handing out firearms I'd agree with ya ;) The difference is of course that the burger only kills the person ingesting it where a gun kills someone other than the owner. This makes the former a personal responsibility issue and the latter a public safety issue.

And of course, you can eat McDonalds safely in moderation without developing obesity, but you can't really get shot safely or in moderation without developing death.

Re 2: I have not tried to get a PAL, though I do understand it to be quite an arduous process.

Re 3: Indeed more should be done to keep weapons on the US side, however I don't think there's any reason we can't do both things at the same time.


Thanks for being willing to have a discussion about this. 1. > The difference is of course that the burger only kills the person ingesting it where a gun kills someone other than the owner.

Guns in general (both in the US and CA) have more self harm / accidental deaths to the owner than to others - If we wanted to reduce deaths by firearms, this is the number to watch out for. Which is why I brought it up. Far more people die due to drunk driving than firearm related deaths.

What I’m saying is that this issue has an significant amount of focus for an insignificant amount of return in Canada. (Again I’m referring to legal firearms).

2. I brought up PAL because just like we need a license to drive a car safely and the consequences of not having one and driving a car are serious, the same applies to guns as well.

3. > Indeed more should be done to keep weapons on the US side, however I don't think there's any reason we can't do both things at the same time.

I agree that we can do both at the same time - I don’t see anything being done about it though. I pointed (and feel) that this is why it makes this entire bill pointless.

I live in Toronto and have family in Scarborough - both places where firearm related deaths and crimes have kept going up YoY. (One of the people who died in the Nova Scotia’s shooting was a part of my interns family - a family that does have firearms btw - and yet they are against the bill). That said, I’ve yet to hear of crimes committed by PAL holders. This law has done nothing to keep us safe (or even relatively safer) while taking away a lot more.

Further, as a taxpayer - the buyback is going to cost quite a bit while our deficit is through the roof due to COVID. And I’d rather we not spend money for show when it is much needed elsewhere.


I agree with you on almost all points, but regarding:

> but you can't really get shot safely or in moderation without developing death.

I think 50 Cent offers a counterpoint.


PAL/RPAL holders, or weapons stolen from them, account for virtually no gun crimes in Canada. Essentially all are carried out with illegal weapons smuggled in from the US.

Therefore, the ban is ineffective in serving its mandate, punishes law abiding, statistically harmless individuals needlessly and saddles the taxpayer, of which only 60% of households in Canada are, with yet more debt for nothing.

It has also set a very dangerous precedent in Canada as to how "unpopular" rights, not explicitly in the Charter, can be stripped by the pen stroke of a populist.

But HN, and this topic in particular, is not the place for this discussion. Good luck to you when the political pendulum swings.


> It has also set a very dangerous precedent in Canada as to how "unpopular" rights, not explicitly in the Charter, can be stripped by the pen stroke of a populist.

To be fair, if it's not in the charter, it's not a right. You are of course correct re the pendulum and unpopular privileges.


>There's no reason to possess these weapons any more than there's a reason to possess nuclear warheads.

I've yet to see any valid reasons to possess drugs or alcohol. With guns, there is at least the justification of self defense.

>and pray the crime away.

Is that not what is being done with all crimes (drunk driving, but also many assaults) associated with alcohol?

There are two ways government can work. You can either have it where you have to justify to the government why you should have something, or you can have it where the government can justify why you should not have something. The former is far worse. The latter only works if the logic used is consistent, else it is really the former in disguise.

People always seem to want the former when it comes to guns, but the latter when it comes to things they personally like which have been associated with government restrictions. Why is the double standard held so openly?


> I've yet to see any valid reasons to possess drugs or alcohol.

For recreation, therapy, socialization, experimentation, mysticism, or just because it's my own damn body.

> With guns, there is at least the justification of self defense.

That would be fine if gun violence wasn't a thing.


Alcohol use sends a person with impaired judgement and often times a short fuse into the public space to wreak havoc. By the millions.

How many fist fights, rapes, harassment, spouse and child beatings, car crashes, on the job accidents, chronic illness, and early deaths must society be forced to accept just so people with disposable income can enjoy a nice red wine with their meal?

Seems pretty selfish.


Society already has been down the road of banning alcohol, and it went over just as poorly as the war on drugs, with tons of social and economic costs.


Past failure does not inherently prove future failure. Plenty of things were implemented poorly and yet people who favor them will argue that it just needs to be done better.

Are they correct or are they missing something core enough to the issue that makes poor implementation and almost assured outcome?

And for bans in general, there are many bans that went poorly yet people still generally approve of a ban, even when it has unintended costs, as long as they have a strong dislike of the item being banned.

For example, CSA image bans have a history of being used to restrict freedom (such as the recent attack on encryption) and great personal cost to individuals (any kids who get caught up in laws that didn't make exceptions for kids committing the criminal acts), and they can largely be judged as a failure (from police and news reports of how the problem continues to grow worse). Yet such laws have extremely widespread support, more than most any other law I can think of, to the extent where even reasonable rollbacks of the existing to attempt to fix some of the current problems can kill a political career.


>For recreation, therapy, socialization, experimentation, mysticism, or just because it's my own damn body.

Reasoning that equally applies to guns.

>That would be fine if gun violence wasn't a thing.

Drug violence is also a thing.

So in conclusion, it appears there is a double standard being applied here. I suggest getting to the root of that, as otherwise all arguments can easily be dismissed as coming from someone who is applying a double standard (which is a version of special pleasing, a logical fallacy, and thus invalidates any logical basis for their views).


No we won’t, and you can thank the true patriots who continue to defend your rights.


Yes, it really is getting out of hand. If there was a reasonable equivalent that was an alternate (like an email address used to be), that would be one thing but even with a US phone all of a sudden your phone dies and you are completely stranded and even sites you used to be able to access are now no longer accessible because they are asking for phone numbers and confirmation of said numbers. It feels really awful.


Why not setup your own? Or use email? Stuff like deltachat works over smtp? Letschat is 1click deploy on heroku?


>Every Chinese site I've ever used requires phone number or ID verification

Frankly, this happens a lot in the West these days, too. Take OKCupid, for instance. And the third-party doctrine.


Twitter too. Every Twitter account I registered locked me out and asked for phone number after an hour or so


Probably a decent security idea to have minimal PIE requirements for a dating site.


> Most of them only allow Chinese-registered phones, meaning it's absolutely impossible to communicate with Chinese people from the outside world, aside from a very small number of carefully vetted services like WeChat.

Indeed. I am very appreciative to wechat that I can keep in touch with my family and friends and enjoy the technology. By valuing my freedom and the freedom of my Chinese contacts, I do not communicate sensitive materials on wechat. The freedom is only ensured within boundary so know thy boundaries. I have plenty of channels to enjoy my western freedom. Whether we should impose our western freedom upon "Chinese freedom"? That is a good question. Fortunately that is not a question I need to resolve.

It is illuminating that those who try to exercise their western freedom on the Chinese domain is helping China to the opposite of their goals. If you have that honorable goal, do your due diligence of educating yourself with the right technology.


Only 9% of Chinese population have a bachelor degree. Only 10% of Chinese population have been abroad. 1 billion Chinese never take a flight.

Most of the profitable industries in China are state-owned where most of their staff are part of or have some connections with communist party. It is not easy for the unprivileged people to make a living in China. These unprivileged people have a high likelihood to become scammers. Therefore, ID verification is a way to prevent scammers.

Despite of the security reason, there is not way to find out how companies handle personal data. Chinese legal system has no respect to personal data.

Additionally, Chinese education system encourages obedience and penalises people who distrust/challenge the authority. Simply because the authority can easily find another to replace you given the fact that there are 1.3 billion Chinese people. Therefore, people live in China have no choice but to accept whatever is given by the authority.


> meaning it's absolutely impossible to communicate with Chinese people from the outside world, aside from a very small number of carefully vetted services like WeChat.

I've never heard it phrased this way before, dangerous indeed.


"Have no choice" is false. Fortunately, email still works. As does any messenger through a VPN. Using Wechat is simply being complicit with censorship out of laziness.


Keep in mind that most major domains outside of China are blocked. Chinese services aren't going to be any more lax with surveillance than WeChat and have the same registration requirements.

You could maybe try registering your own server, but do you want to have the possibility of questionable messages being saved on a server that you own when dealing with Chinese authorities? Any "oops, sorry" goes out the window when they think you're actively dodging filtering to that extent.


Disclaimer: mainland Chinese here.

> most major domains outside of China are blocked

I don't think this is true; GFW works in a disallow-list fashion and domains have to be explicitly blocked (which is why people do keyword attacks[0]).

[0]: https://github.com/cirosantilli/china-dictatorship


Certainly the block is manually controlled.

But I believe that GitHub is not blocked yet just because it is not "major" enough because it is used almost exclusively only by programmers.

If non-programmers started to use it more, I believe it will get banned.


GitHub's been banned in the past. It made development work near impossible, so they unbanned it.


The parent is talking about communicating with friends and family. My point is not about evading surveillance, it's about not using one of the main tools of the CCP censorship apparatus.

If you're inside China and care about your safety, you would think twice about sending "questionable" messages even on the most secure channel because you're still physically vulnerable to rubber hose cryptanalysis.


And I didn't say anything about sending anything.

If anybody messages you or your family/friends receives something suspicious something and the Party suspects you're intentionally avoiding their watchful eye with a custom mail server, I think you might end up worse off. All it takes is one goofball finding a vulnerability in your system and dropping a joke image or bit of text to royally screw you.

Furthermore, while it's nice in theory to deploy your own servers and get all of your friends and family to exclusively chat through your homemade application, it's very unlikely. WeChat is basically an OS all its own these days. It's a social network, chat app, payment app, shop, and more. People are incredibly reluctant to give up convenience unless they're very motivated and technologically inclined. And for people inside of China, getting a VPN or non-Chinese messenger is quite difficult thanks to locked down app stores and most people communicating only through phones.

I don't use Facebook and won't budge on that issue. My parents won't use anything that's not Facebook. If they won't take 10 seconds to register for anything else, then they certainly won't want to deal with anything I'd try to scrap together. The end result is that I make a VOIP call to their phone about once a month and they ask me to just give up and use Facebook at some point. It's probably a similar situation with most people wanting to leave XYZ terrible messenger.


How is "have no choice" false when you have to pretend to be from another country to be able to use messaging services? If the choice is bordering on illegal (I'm not familiar with the intricacies of Chinese law but I'd assume it's atleast frowned upon to bypass their barriers) then is it really a choice? To me a choice would be that you could use the state sanctioned communication apps OR another one in the same way.


My understanding is that VPNs are not hard to get and are silently tolerated. Obviously, using them to then do something illegal like plan your own protests might get you in trouble, but using it to access YouTube or chat to someone overseas via WhatsApp is allowed.


They were tolerated at first but not as much any more. https://www.pcmag.com/news/china-starts-issuing-145-fines-fo...


It's not as obvious as before, and they try to show their big arms to discourage most of the people, but there is always a way. I live in China since almost 8 years and I've seen so many articles with big titles like "VPN are going to be totally blocked next month". Every time I'm scared, but every time not a lot change (hopefully, otherwise I would just leave).

On big CCP reunions (next one at the end of may), they somehow block most of the VPN for several days, so they have the capacity to do it. But it never last so long, I feel they use it a bit like a pressure cooker, to release pressure when people are getting upset.


hmm. I kinda disagree. For a lot of my relatives, WeChat == the internet. I honestly don't know if any of them have actual email addresses. So the alternative to WeChat is not talking to them at all.


QQ works as well, I would be curious how does QQ compare to WeChat regarding censorship, maybe flying under radar currently?


Probably censored as well, because both are owned by the same company Tencent.


> As does any messenger through a VPN

Except VPNs are illegal in china. If a site is banned in china. Using a VPN to circumvent the law is breaking the law.

Email is not secure.


There is no such thing as "the law" in China. You may be imprisoned or disappeared if you didn't do anything to circumvent "the law", there are always undisclosed "relevant rules and regulations" ready to be unleashed. You can also carry out brazen illegal activities as long as you are well-connected (until you start stepping on toes of someone more well-connected than you).

So what if email is insecure, neither is Wechat. And encrypted email is still a thing.


It's easy to point to examples of all those things in the US. Both countries still have laws.


You are wrong.

There is a big difference between countries with independent judicial systems, and China where judges are below the local party secretary.

Chinese laws are decoration. What actually counts is what the party decides.


Did you know that 95% of people convicted of a crime in the US were not convicted by that independent judicial system? https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/prisons-are-packed-bec...

Just because there isn't "the party" making decisions in the US doesn't mean that there isn't a lot of flexibility in when and how the law is applied. It just gets left up to the local sheriff or prosecutors.


Typical Wumao whataboutism! Even the best legal system is flawed because it is handled by humans.

But that doesn't mean that the legal system in the facist dicatorship of China is comparable in any way to a proper democratic judiciary.

Chinas system is an unconstitutional state by definition.


some VPNs are in theory legal, but you are right for 99.9% of Chinese population they are inaccessible and illegal

people downvoting you are morons downvoting for technicality, while you are right


This isn't strictly true - https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-economy/article/3023081/c...

It's also worth noting that a cellular connection that is roaming is not generally subject to the restrictions the firewall imposes.


It is strictly true. The law states: "illegal to access foreign internet without government permission first."

The government opening up businesses to connect to services such as facebook or twitter to promote china businesses and so on is just the government giving permissions.

But for the every-day citizen, the use of a VPN is technically illegal as it circumvents the law.


I don’t think this is true. iMessage works in China (they can’t block all of Apple)


But iMessage in China was supported by yunshangguizhou(https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E4%BA%91%E4%B8%8A%E8%B4%B5%E5...), a state-owned enterprise.


I feel/fear that we will learn (in 10-20 years from now) that ZOOM was up until now doing the same. Recording faces and voices, tagging us, and now they can freely scan anything and everything (think Clearview) and they have the extras (voiceprint, 3d face recognition).

Edit: I "felt" like ZOOM is 100% USA company. When I read (here) that the bulk is in China and USA has the shell/legal entity the above was my first thought. When I read some more that everything is routed via China and that their crypto is not actual crypto, I became certain that the Chinese Big Brother was doing that. I am not a conspiracy guy. I just see what China likes to do to its own people and now the out a camera in everyone's faces, "for free".


yes that's the problem, you use wechat, you're helping the CCP to censor.

it's so sad all the other alternatives, facebook/Line/Telegram/etc are still lagging behind Wechat as a chatting tool, if there is one equally good, overseas wechat user might switch.


It’s worth noting that Facebook Messenger also intercepts and filters messages. For example, it’s impossible to send a message containing the link “joebiden.info”. On the mobile app, it will simply say “failed to send.” On desktop, it will tell you the link violates its “community standards” and cannot be shared.


I just tried it on Facebook Messenger, and it would only work when switching to a encrypted chat (which kind of makes sense).

Kind of outrageous to criticize WeChat and leave out Facebook, when it clearly wants to join the party. I realize Facebook doesn't implement the same degree of censorship as WeChat, but to be fair, I live in Japan, and even for me the joebiden.info is censored.


And even then, I remember trying to send a torrent magnet link to someone in an encrypted chat and it wouldn't go through. They're also doing some local / client-based filtering as well.


Facebook at least tells you, but yes, this is concerning.


I just visited that site.

The concerning thing is the site isn't spam and offers a political view with photos/videos of real moments that may reflect poorly on joe .

To censor that is crossing the line into censoring valid political speech.


Even the policy positions listed there are literally factual and backed with sources from CNN, NYT and government websites. There is no remotely plausible reason for that site to be blacklisted by facebook.


Maybe Russians made it?


Nope I’m pretty sure it was made by a mod on /r/t_d


What’s the difference?


So funny


It's made by a person who works for Trump's campaign team, yet the language toward the bottom gives the impression the author has no affiliation with any political group. That is likely the reason behind the block.


Exactly. Imagine Big Tech censoring a website dedicated to hosting the Trump "grab them by the pussy" tape? It would be outrageous.


And every time the censor sites like this, it just increases the size of Trumps war drum. You'd think after 2016, they'd stop the suppression route but it seems the efforts are just increasing. Makes it really hard to support anyone


Just curious, does the information on that site ever change?


Wow I just tried this out. I can't believe they're so brazenly blocking content.


You must be new to FB blockings. Our company has a website ranked in the top ten most visited websites in our country, and FB just block the domain entirely from FB systems without any explanation. They only unban us recently.


This is the first time I've heard of this. Are there other links that Messenger blocks? Honestly I'm really curious what went into this decision, I can't really understand why they thought this was a good idea.


No experience with Messenger but I recall Facebook blocking posts that link to F.B. Purity.


I'm not sure how you discovered this, but I think you just started the biggest steisand effect of the year.


That's interesting. What else is blocked/censored on Facebook Messenger or in WhatsApp? Don't use FM myself.


WhatsApp used to block links to competitors such as Telegram. It would mysteriously fail to send. I just tested it again and apparently, they now allow it.


No text is censored on WhatsApp, it's technically impossible due to E2EE. Obviously you can't send GB of data in one message, and there must some other small client-side restrictions, but nothing you can reasonably call censorship.


There is/was a blacklist of words / domains in the client, the filtering done locally.

https://twitter.com/jernejv/status/671620692924846080?s=19

It's still censorship.


Of course it's technically possible. They would just need to do the blocking on the client, before sending the message (or after receiving it).


You can create download link by sendgb.com and share up to 5 GB via WhatsApp.


Or any other file sharing website for that matter, but at least use something more secure from a more trustworthy company, such as https://send.firefox.com/ (never heard of sendgb.com).


Yes firefox is good option. Sendgb is from Estonia. Sendgb allows file transfer up to 5 GB. File are storages up to 90 days for free. Nobody knows which one is more safety. Sometimes big services have more security problems...like Dropbox, wetransfer etc...


Firefox Send is E2EE (albeit via JS code served at every connection), contrary to sendgb (AFAICT), which makes it a strictly better option.


Facebook Messenger also used to check if you were sending an image uploaded by one of your friends. If Alice uploaded a photo, but didn't share it with Bob, you wouldn't be able to send that photo to Bob. It would also check if a shared photo was embedded in another, like a screenshot.


>For example, it’s impossible to send a message containing the link “joebiden.info”

This is the first I've heard about this. Had a look at the site and the content loaded doesn't seem to be malicious (technically), just content on some questionable areas about Biden.

What's going on here?


It's run by a person on Trump's campaign team: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/29/us/politics/fake-joe-bide...

At the bottom it claims: "It is not paid for by any candidate, committee, organization, or PAC." While that may be technically true (it would be hard to verify), it's certainly misleading. I'm assuming because of that claim it runs afoul of FB's community standards.


How is it misleading? It's completely true.

And, is Fb now a judge in the US who should decide these things?

I don't think it's good to trying to justify what Fb is doing.


Is Mauldin paid for his campaign work? If he is, what difference does it make if the political campaign site he's running (and that's what it is) has its development/hosting paid for by anyone?

Regardless of the answer to that question and the validity of the information on the site, the site looks like expert craft in sketchy campaigning. It isn't being very honest about what it is and it is not a good faith attempt at informing voters, all under the direction of effectively the Trump campaign. I think FB should be allowed to block crap like this.

edit: and to be clear this opinion applies for the reverse political ideologies as well. I wouldn't want to see e.g. Apple/Android blocking stuff in text messages, but I don't have a problem with FB/Twitter/Reddit doing it because that's where problematic discourse festers, by design.


It's misleading because by the way it's phrased, it sounds like the person who created it has no affiliations with a political group - while he does in fact work for the Trump campaign.

Regardless, I don't understand how you can definitely say it's true, there's no way you can know that. More likely than not, this person is being compensated in at least some way indirectly.

As to what Facebook is doing, this is designed to deceptively mislead voters, not just on content, but on source. We're going to have to agree to disagree here.


In this way it's a little sneaky, because some criticisms on that website would likely be more of a dealbreaker for a democratic voter than they would for a Trump supporter, on average. Example: Republicans are probably more likely to support the death penalty.


The differences are: (1) with Facebook it's a private company doing the censoring and there's no issue with that, no First Amendment issues at all, unlike WeChat where the censoring is heavily linked to the government; (2) Facebook at least tells you when a message can't be sent but WeChat fails silently.


> it's a private company doing the censoring and there's no issue with that

That's certainly not a universally agreed upon perspective. Just because you're a private company doesn't mean you can do anything you want (eg. discrimination), hence the existence of regulations.


I think one major issue with FB's stance is they say they are not a publisher but rather a platform.. of course, they do tend to use whatever is convenient to them sometimes.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jul/02/facebook-...


Also many of us argue about the principle of free speech, not the literal text of the First Amendment.


It must be rather nice to feel so assured that this alleged separation of state and industry exists; as though the line between state and society, particularly industry, is all that clear.


Tencent is a Chinese company so there's no First Amendment issue there either


The Chinese constitution actually guarantees freedom of speech, but the Chinese government (meaning party) does not adhere to constitution legal supremacy so it isn’t very meaningful.


A private company with a massive user base and global presence I should add. Which fights for complete market dominance in every way it can, buying every Platform they can, that has large adoption. It’s not only bound by the American constitution. It’s like saying Windows is not an almost de facto monopoly because “people have choices”.


"First Amendment" means nothing outside the US and certainly has nothing to do with WeChat. Why are people using esoteric and convoluted American terms for things that have universal equivalents?


> with Facebook it's a private company doing the censoring and there's no issue with that

Whether the company is private or not is immaterial. What matters is its scale, and how much you can actually avoid it.

Facebook is not easily avoided. I personally went under significant social pressure to get an account and actually use it. Getting out had a measurable cost (not being aware of events that mattered to me). That's not too bad, but even then I'm cheating: my SO has an account, and I regularly profit from that.

Same for YouTube: they have a near monopoly on most western audiences. If they block something, that's near censorship. Next to it, most alternatives might as well not exist at all.


Mark Zuckerberg getting hauled in front of Congress could be viewed as not-so-subtle pressure. Even without explicitly requiring censorship, the government can pressure companies to enact it. At what point does that become a First Amendment issue?


Really? Facebook started censoring completely of their own volition? Not because Western governments started to apply pressure on them?

Facebook's handling of filtered out messages is honestly not an improvement over WeChat worth celebrating.


it has been proven time and time again that companies and politicians have engaged in quid pro quo. this "oh, but companies are private in the u.s." is a bunch of bull. that's exactly what they want you to think, meanwhile, there are lot of shenanigans and lobbying that goes on in the background.


>with Facebook it's a private company doing the censoring and there's no issue with that, no First Amendment issues at all, unlike WeChat where the censoring is heavily linked to the government;

Why does this not apply to other situations such as who I hire?

Also, is not Facebook used by parts of the US government? If Facebook prevents me from sending that link to any government representative then does that not constitute the government (by choosing to use Facebook as a communication channel) censoring my speech? It would be similar to the case of Trump blocking individuals on Twitter. Imagine if government offices swapped to some religious based chat forum as their official means of communication where messages from all people not of a certain religion (as determined by the sight) are filtered.


This is mental, how did you find this?


Someone should do a Tell HN on it.


Very very few messaging platforms operate without any kind of censorship. Censorship, by itself, is not particularly worrisome, especially when done by first or second parties to the conversation.

The problems arise when the censorship is compelled by third parties who are using it for their own benefit, rather than the benefit of others.


I'd argue that the problems arise whenever the censorship is compelled by third parties, even if they're doing it for the benefit of others.

> Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.


even if you opt for encrypted communication? dunno, not using it, just asking


Meh I can kind of understand why the site is deemed questionable. It's paid for by a Republican political consulting firm. It may not be orchestrated by the Trump campaign but they definitely condone it. According to Snopes some parts of it can also be deemed as misinformation (like the picture framed as Biden groping Stephanie Carter).

So to me it's in the grey area bordering on black, but I'm also not a fan of this type of campaigning (playing on the man).The fact that they try to present it as an actual Biden website is also questionable.


So?

Are we really at the point where we can defend censorship of a website that doesn't have any illegal content, no links to illegal content, and the purpose of which is not to do anything illegal, but whose only purpose make ones political opinions known.

On Facebook messenger, one of the biggest messaging apps in the world. This is honestly disgusting, and I think they are going to face backlash for it.


So you're fine with the fact that they are purposefully spreading misinformation? Then just say that you're OK with that (if it suits your agenda, of course) instead of downvoting.


> According to Snopes some parts of it can also be deemed as misinformation (like the picture framed as Biden groping Stephanie Carter).

It has the full, unedited video segment, and you can't even send that site in a direct message to a facebook friend. You're making a motte and bailey to try to defend one of the largest companies on earth directly interfering in what I can say to a single other person. Maintaining a community is one thing. This is quite another.


they're a private company and can do whatever they want


It's always odd to me when someone is talking about a public backlash and this is the response.

Did they say anything about legality? Facebook is free to do what it wants and the public is free to criticize it.

Legality isn't a magic shield against criticism.


>defend censorship of a website that doesn't have any illegal content

yes


Except they generally can't. See limits on who they can hire and what speech they can engage in. So we already limit the powers of companies to protect the rights of people even though we could have just told the people work/shop/go somewhere else. Why doesn't that logic also extend to speech?


Sure, and we as citizens can hold these private companies accountable by voicing our concerns to our government representatives who can enact legislation to prevent companies from doing whatever they want.


and they as a billion dollar company can voice their concerns to lobbyist who will then convince the government to do nothing


So if TMobile or Verizon would drop your call, because you mentioned some political candidate's name, that would be completely okay with you?


Are you comparing facebook to a utility company? But honestly, misinformation in this day and age is such a huge problem. If a source is willfully spreading misinformation (that can be fact checked) then yeah, why should they be allowed to do that? They have absolutely no value, except for the people trying to deceive in order to further their agendas.


So a single billionaire should decide what people can and can not talk about?

My guess is you are a Monarchist then?


Facebook for most people is effectively a utility in all but name.


It's not just WeChat.

They own stakes in many american media companies and movie production houses. They use this influence to also change our Media and push pro-Chinese propaganda to the American public.


Propaganda is propaganda. It does not surprise me and it is very obvious - even more obvious then the "USA SO HERO" and "WESTERN STUFF IS SO COOL" propaganda in movies.


The difference is there are plenty of US movies that can denounce their own government while Chinese movies can never take any criticism about themselves. I would take self-promotion over censorship any day.


[flagged]


A white sepremacy blog, are you serious?


uhm, that excerpt is the single kernel that sticks out from the rest of the article


The article was interesting but boy, did it take an unexpected turn at the end. I may agree with the article and the life in Senegal, but I definitely DON'T with the conclusion.


How was that turn unexpected?

Didn't the part that said

"Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that a few decades later, liberals would be pushing the lie that Western civilization is no better than a third-world country. Or would teach two generations of our kids that loving your own culture and wanting to preserve it are racism."

at the beginning clue you in?

The author certainly doesn't try very hard to be subtle.


I’ve been suspecting this for a long time but came across few evidence for it. I’ve seen Chinese funding of Hollywood movies, but it’s always through an American fund, etc. What kind of evidence have you found? To me, the fact that Hollywood would never attack communism, is a big one. Thousands of movies about nazism, zero about the Soviet union and their crimes. Even Cuba is very underrepresented in the industry. Yet differently from a regime that lasted two decades, we are talking about one that persists very well until today.


Um, what are you talking about? There were whole decades of Hollywood having the Reds as the default villain. Everything up to 2000s when they were replaced by middle easterners.


America was at war with the talibans: America had always been at war with the talibans. A large part of the political literature of five years was now completely obsolete. Reports and records of all kinds, newspapers, books, pamphlets, films, sound-tracks, photographs--all had to be rectified at lightning speed. Although no directive was ever issued, it was known that the chiefs of the Department intended that within one week no reference to the war with communism, or the alliance with the talibans, should remain in existence anywhere.


Except that all of this material (movies and TV, news articles, reports) is still available. I don't see how this adapted quote is at all applicable.

The whole point of the 1984 scenario was that people couldn't talk about the preceding period and no evidence supporting its existence could be found.


I'll go a step further: Not only is the evidence and history of US-Taliban relations all still there, but the accused-1984 people weren't even denying the history exists. They were, at worst, just glossing over it.

Let's suppose that there are five tiers on the spectrum of "good" to "1984": Acknowledge the history; Omit it; Contradict it, Erase it, Punish dissenters.

Prior to 2016 most US politicians never went past Omit.


> Prior to 2016 most US politicians never went past Omit.

Bush 2.0 did a good job of making the media toe the line by shutting out any dissenters. This was the beginning of the neo-con manipulation game.


[flagged]


We've banned this account for repeatedly breaking the site guidelines.

Complaining about how you'll get banned doesn't immunize you against getting banned, btw. You have to actually follow the rules, and this sort of flamebait and nationalistic battle is well outside the line.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


I haven't seen anybody "support" WeChat on HN, and even Zoom has been catching a lot of flack here. More than that, though, your jump from the users of a site supposedly supporting certain products to the site itself being owned by the Chinese is hilariously absurd. Maybe you should actually think about what you're saying before the next time you yell "Wake up, sheeple!"


It is no coincidence, when Chinese companies decide to invest in western culture (and subsequently decide you cannot flash certain flags, show certain teddy bears or express your opinion on whether you think a city should be free or not), buy a hotel near a naval base or push cheap network equipment.

The doctrine is commonly known as 3 warfares and was drawn up by officers in the Chinese military in the beginning of the 90'ies. The success of the officers behind the strategy have since moved on to become high ranking military officials, which should give you an idea about how their work was received within the Chinese government.

Looking for classic cold war patterns is not going work with China.


Downvotes don't mean censorship. You clearly made your point with complete freedom of speech. Agreeing with you is another thing.


> Downvotes don't mean censorship.

Good question. I think it does if downvotes result in inability to express an opinion (as opposed to simply having downvotes shown).

If downvotes are used to suppress freedoms then downvoting is a means of censorship. In other words, there is no big difference between prohibiting something by one person (dictatorship) or by 10 persons (collective dictatorship) (if it is not prohibited by law of course).


The problem is that downvoting alone doesn't really tell you anything meaningful other than someone didn't like your post. You can say something completely factual and logical but just because someone didn't like your tone, they can turn your post invisible. This does not promote healthy discourse. This also means that for any topic that is super controversial, the thing that determines whether the post gets seen or not is whether a majority group is able to downvote the post into oblivion early enough. Because once a post is greyed out, very few people are going to read it at that point and it will stay grey. At the very least, downvoting should require providing reasoning for the downvote so people can defend their argument.


What's censorship and what is not seems to always change depending on convenience https://i.imgur.com/xTCKWNM.jpg


> You can see the pro-chinese propaganda on this site alone.

Actually, most of the propaganda here and in social media has been anti-chinese. Obnoxiously so.

> The number of people supporting Zoom, WHO, WeChat, etc is enough to conclude with near certainty this site as well is owned by the Chinese.

What? Almost everything about Zoom, WHO, WeChat, etc has been negative. Even this thread has been negative.

> What you're speaking is truth. It's a shame this site will censor you.

Don't. The obvious victimhood propaganda won't get you very far here.

> It is no coincidence so much information suppression has gone on the last 3 months...

3 months? It's been going on for many years. And I don't think it is the chinese behind it.

People like you tell us that the russians and now the chinese control propaganda in the US and yet everything I read, see or hear is anti-russian and anti-chinese. Either the russians and chinese hate themselves or they are just terrible at propaganda or you are simply wrong.


The issue I see is not related to whether a site contains a balanced view point or not. That is up to honest moderation based on the site's guidelines.

The main issue is how a site provides tools for promoting healthy discussion. As long as a submission cooperates with a site's guidelines, the site's (moral) duty after that is to ensure that people that make good use of logic, reason, facts, and sources have their voices heard. What I see sometimes on this site is that people that have legitimate arguments and authoritative sources have their posts silenced (greyed out) or flagged just because a majority group of users disagreed emotionally. To me, that is a red flag. I believe that HN tries it's best to promote healthy discourse but I also believe that there is more they can do to optimize it.


> Actually, most of the propaganda here and in social media has been anti-chinese. Obnoxiously so.

yes, exactly. hacker news, even more so than other sites i visit, has a very anti-chinese bend to it. however, the parent article is indeed interesting.


[flagged]


Don't insinuate shilling (https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html). If you read that comment again with more care you'll see it's not at all whataboutism (the "What about America doing xyz" type comment that tries to suggest criticism is invalid because behavior elsewhere).


As JCharante mentions, this statement was offered as a modernization of historical reaction to similar events, not a commentary on the parent comment. In that context the interpretation my statement basically turns on whether you believe the McCarthy was right or not and whether a similar person would be right or not today.


Oh, I hadn't realized your question was paraphrasing a quote made famous during the 1950s


References to McCarthyism are still very recognizable and not at all fringe...


I took it as a reference to the famous quote/question "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?"


[flagged]


Wow, one character from a region that makes up 60% of the world's population? How radical. Next you'll be telling me that I should be worried because they included a black character and a female character.

If anything, the fact that anyone considers this at all notable should be a sign of just how racially biased casting is in most Western media. The world isn't nearly as white as it looks on your TV.


yeah i literally dont get why the guy brought up race, they should be bringing up shit like video game companies making their black characters white to sell to china. or how about the basic example of blizzards fumbling of the pro hong kong competition winner last year


> i literally don't get why the guy brought up race

They brought up race because they were replying to a racist conspiracy theory amounting to them running Hollywood and pushing their agenda.

Hacker News is one of the few sites - others being Stormfront, Daily Stormer, 8chan - where that kind of shit still flies.


That opinion is more mainstream then you give it credit. It is backed up recently by the nba losses (2 billion reported) for letting a player give support to Hong kong.

China has increased their power. Calling that notion racist discounts all of the different people who make up China's population. China is a country with people of many different colors, backgrounds and religions. Thinking of China as a single color is a little racist.


The NBA losing money and the Chinese government being totalitarian and thin skinned doesn't give free rein to any old racist shit, mate.

And they own media companies to push their agenda is flat out, textbook conspiracy theory racism, unless you have more evidence than something completely unrelated.


How is criticizing a government racist towards the people it happens to rule over, again?

In that logic, criticizing someone is racism towards each and every group that human happens to be part of. That's plain silly.


"They own stakes in many american media companies and movie production houses. They use this influence to also change our Media and push pro-Jewish propaganda to the American public."

Just criticism of the Israeli government?


The difference there is that people holding those views never claim that the Israeli govt is behind such schemes, they believe it is the International Jewish Shadow Cabal, in which Israel is just a cog.


My point is that such a statement is obviously not referring to a government, but to a people.

Is your point seriously that such a statement is racist when about Jewish people, but not racist when about Chinese people?


I don’t think it’s fair to call it a racist position. I read it as them saying that the Chinese government is doing these things, not that the Chinese people are doing these things.


It's a racist conspiracy that China is using its financial leverage to influence creative decisions by American-based companies?

Why do you think the last few Transformer movies were made?


Go on then, explain how the last few Transformer movies were about pushing pro-Chinese propaganda.


That's not what I said.

China is using its position to propagate and censor media both domestically and globally.

Not liking the actions of a government doesn't mean you're racist against that population.

https://screenrant.com/movies-changed-for-china/

> Decisions to cast Tilda Swinton as a 'celtic' incarnation of the Ancient One, typically a Tibetan character, alongside the choice to move Stephen Strange's place of spiritual enlightenment and training from Tibet to Nepal, have created significant controversy online from those who argue that Marvel Studios is whitewashing Strange's backstory to better appeal to the Chinese government.

Propaganda doesn't have to look like a commercial from a tourism board.


> That's not what I said.

Then what you said has nothing to do with what I was commenting on, which was not a claim that Hollywood will do what it has to do to access the Chinese market, but a claim that "they" own stakes in media companies to push pro-Chinese propaganda to the American public.

Do you have some examples of that?


Imagine Germany successfully putting pressure on American movie makers to make Jewish figures in their stories be no longer Jewish, because in it's official German policy that Jews do not exist, they've always been just Germans or something else.

You can split hairs and say that's technically not pro-German, but anti-Jewish or whatever, and put "they" in quotes all you want; nobody who cares about the actual individual people and not just sophistry in a vacuum will be moved by it.


And you can carry on avoiding the question all you want, if you can't bring yourself to call out a rancid old racist conspiracy theory for what it is.


The problem is that black female character has been replaced with a female asian character.

The diversity of Americans is not being represented anymore. Trying to sell to the Chinese market has unintended costs.


And these characters are typically paired up with the white male hero. Isn’t this more indicative of the director’s or writer’s fantasies?


It's illuminating that you think Asian diversity in media is Chinese propaganda.


Can you show an example of blatant Chinese propaganda from those production houses? One that are clearly separated from opinion?

Or are we using propaganda and opinions interchangeably here


How about the fact that a character in a Marvel movie, ostensibly an inoffensive family film, who was originally Tibetian, was changed to a white woman just so it could make money in China? I don't think Disney has any Chinese ownership, but it's pretty blatant that the industry is bending over backwards to not piss off China and get the box office returns there.

Here's a whole article on it: https://www.cnet.com/features/marvel-is-censoring-films-for-...


China exerts significant influence over the production process if you want access. (https://fortune.com/2019/10/22/hollywood-china-coproduction-...)

It's not a matter of "separated from opinion", but rather the cutting of certain scenes or modification of certain lines of dialog. They also effectively engage in various forms of product placement on a more nationalistic level.


propaganda meaning they are censoring content of movies, good luck shooting movie where Chinese will be shown as bad guys... it does not need to show them in good light, it's just better not show them at all, if you intended to use them as villains or show truth about them, that's good enough for them

and anyway in recent years they tried to promote China in movies as cooperating nation helping world


Don’t think of it like traditional old world propaganda that’s obviously promoting China. The propaganda can be anything that divides the country. Both are the same result as far as China’s concerned.


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