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India is absolutely right in banning TikTok as it is a significant national securities threat.

As long as the platforms recommendation and ranking algos are a black box, there is no guarantee that China isn’t conducting misinformation campaigns via the platform.

At the very least, the government should audit the algos and make sure China can’t arbitrarily alter ranking results.






Are YouTube algorithms open? I don't really see a difference here. Nation state vs. private corporation is different on paper, but I don't see why. They're both going to react to material stimuli to increase their standings.

Nation states have military, intelligence, diplomacy and police corps. They reserve the power to stop, detain, arrest, jail, try, sentence, imprison, and kill. That’s why how we go about those things is a Big Deal, and why we have so many rules about who can go about it, how, under what circumstances, what the laws are that they’re enforcing, what the processes and procedures are for enforcement and how guilt is determined.

Corporations as a rule, and there have been exceptions, but as a rule have none of those powers. Theoretically the worst crimes they’re going to commit are fraudulent in nature and crimes of negligence. They’re not just a separate org chart ultimately serving as a private arm of the State with its own private rules that it self-enforces; they’re different beasts entirely.

The problem with PRC-based corporations is that they muddy the waters entirely between what is private and public. As far as the PRC is concerned, all private life is subject to the State and should serve the interests of the State. Google and Facebook and your favorite café or tea house can and do have interests that lie entirely outside of the State and are free to pursue them. That is the difference between a free society and an authoritarian State.


I think you forget a detail. Nation state, or any state, are sovereign.

If the national community agrees on something, it's all that matter. We don't have to abide by other countries standards on everything especially if we dont like it.

Im thinking as a French I had to fight a lot with free speech absolutists abroad, while at home we're quite okay with selective censorship... it sounds scary to an American sometimes, but hell we dont care :D


The idea that restrictions in human liberty are subject to when "a national community agrees on something" is laughable at best and evil at worst.

> laughable at best and evil at worst.

Forgive me for not just taking your word for it. Citation needed.

Even your freedom of speech is subject to certain restrictions in the US – you can't make violent verbal threats to people, to name one example.

The problem with Law is that laymen opinions seem to matter even less than in other domains.


I think it had to do with how other domains often have new words for things specific to it, but law, in addition to that, frequently redefines existing words and phrases to mean extremely specific things in particular legal contexts. These redefinitions often are not intuitive to the everyday user of the word or phrase. IMO, this is a big reason why lay opinions seem to matter less. That is, they are often commenting on a message that differs from the actual content of the legal text to such a degree as to be "not even wrong", as it were.

Does that also pertain to drug regulations? Because the US certainly restricts a whole hell of a lot of people based on that.

But what is human liberty?

The problem here (as I see it) is that the definition of liberty is very subjective, and yet people make arguments like yours based on the premise that their personal definition of liberty is an objective truth.


But who draws the "human liberty" line? Where and how does "human liberty" and "individual liberty" intersect? Is the Non Aggression Principle the doctrine on this? Or something more progressive that helps ensure minority rights? Some other option entirely?

Liberty and humanism are topics built on millennia of context and nuance. Blanket statements like yours, while passionate, risk being so reductionist that they distract from the important substance of the conversation.


It's for the same reasons that amending constitutions require more buy-in than just changing laws.

You can establish things that you think are "very important" in a society, and make it much harder to change than other things.

Of course, if everyone thinks you're the king of France, you're the king of France. But establishing rules to counterbalance the state's monopoly on violence and making those be pretty strong protections within the framework of laws helps establish the norms!

Everything has an asterisk in these kinds of conversation. I think most people can understand the relative difference in values between "people should have a right to assemble and speak their mind" and "people should be able to park on the left side of this street on weekends"


The idea of someone drawing lines is positivist bullshit. The Declaration of Independence was grounded on the bedrock of Natural law, and the bedrock of the Constitution was the common law. The context for both was American but the principles therein are Universal.

Liberty is the natural order, but liberties can be tempered by morals and laws. If they existed not in nature, but as a set of approved rights granted to you by secular authorities, then your liberty is not your liberty, but your license.


Well, slavery was abolished after the civil war some hundred years after the constitution. So much for human liberty.

75 years, and slavery has existed for thousands of years prior (and that’s most likely an understatement), and continues to exist even in the present day in different forms.

The difference now is whether it is State-sanctioned or not, and sometimes it still is. Liberty is natural, but laws and morality act as the limiting principle. Without them, martial power is the rule and only another martial power can counteract another from engaging in the trade and enslavement of people; but law can also prevent selling yourself into slavery as a way of settling debts. The 13th Amendment is a general prohibition article, one of the only two ever adopted, and the 18th was later rescinded by the 21st.


No idea what you are talking about, really. matter of fact, all major powers of the time, France and Great Britain, had abolished it at least 50 years prior to the US. Both of these powers were monarchies.

France made slavery in mainland France illegal in 1315, in the colonies they had laws regulating the slave trade, as disgusting as it still is, that made torture and family seperation illegal. This Code Noir resulted in 13.2% of freed slaves in Loissiana compared to 0.8% in Mississipi. No lesser person than Robbespierre abolished slavery in France and its colonies in 1794, until t was shortly reintroduced under Napoleon in the colonies.

The British Empire made the international slave trade illegal in the Empire in 1807, in 1833 slavery was abolished in the Empire as a whole, it was achived mostly in 1838.

Tunesia abolished it in 1846, Romania in 1855.

Some countries were late to abolish it, some went faster. But only the US needed a Civil War to some around. And of the major powers, the US was the only democracy, all others were monarchies at the time slavery was abolished in the main lands.


You're missing a couple of data points. 1806 The United States Congress passed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves, which took effect January 1st, 1808. The 1807 law the British Parliament passed didn't take effect until March 1808. 1808 was also the soonest the United States Congress was able to ban the importation of Slaves under Article I Section 9 of the Constitution. In effect, the British Empire stopped trading slaves when its largest market for slaves stopped importing them. Just to round this out, while you are partially right because Brazil at this time was not its own nation, it was later than the United States in abolishing slavery by about 23 years, 1888.

You missed the point of my post though: the difference between slavery today and slavery in the 18th Century is whether it is state sanctioned or not. There is an extant global slave trade that is larger than the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade at its peak, but now it is a mostly black market trade.

The 13th Amendment has a flaw as well; it allows for prison slavery.

> Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

The Black Codes passed within the Antebellum South made full use of this qualifier to essentially criminalize Blackness and re-enslave Freedmen through the prison system.

I'm not saying it was just, nor am I denying the hypocrisy present within the Constitution at the time of its ratification which is in direct contradiction to the spirit of the Declaration of Independence. That said, there is such a thing as voluntary slavery, and debt bondage. The former was a means of providing for yourself or your child and is a practice that was recorded as far back as the Code of Hammurabi. The latter has a history in the Americas, Asia, Europe and Africa, and is still widespread in South Asia and Subsaharan Africa. Voluntary slavery is a liberty, but because the 13th Amendment does not make any kind of distinction, it is prohibited along with all other forms except prison slavery, hence my characterization of the 13th as a prohibition article.

You can fault the United States for being one of the last countries to (mostly) abolish slavery if you like. That's fine, but it's not the criticism I would levy, there's plenty of Reconstruction Era and post-Reconstruction Era problems stemming from how poorly the Lincoln Amendments were written which were written with the best of intentions, badly. There's also the fact that the Emancipation Proclamation was in 1862 and the 13th Amendment was passed in 1865 just prior to the end of the Civil War. It's now been 155 years, and the 13th Amendment has been in force over twice as long as all of the clauses related to slavery in the Constitution.

In the absence of law though, there is often slavery. Peoples who are weaker than their neighbors and have nothing else to offer are usually enslaved by their neighbors. If you don't have greater martial power and it isn't costly to take you, you're dead, or a slave.


I don't think liberty is the natural order, but something we have to fight to keep, each generation has to carry that fight. Once it is gone it will be a lot harder to regain.

Another thing is that liberty is very difficult to define, and anything from a libertarian paradise to a socialist one (as in Scandinavia) can be the most liberty for different people.


You see, I disagree but not entirely. I do think it is the natural order, but that you are right, you have to fight to keep it.

America is a good example of where we used anti-democratic institutions towards democratic ends. We retained a parliamentary body, but we subordinated it to the Constitution rather than maintaining the premise of parliamentary supremacy. We retained the previous makeup of Congress in the Senate much to Madison’s chagrin, and even improved it somewhat by going from 1 State Vote to 1 State 2 Separate Votes; in exchange we got buy in during the ratification conventions. We put an elected official in Office in place of a King, with term renewal. We introduced an Electoral College into the process because these were the pre-Telegraph pre-Railroad days where it might take six weeks to go from the Potomac to Philadelphia, and made Congress the fallback when the EC couldn’t decide on an overall winner (this process was expected to be used more than it has been, most notably in 1824). We came up with political parties, and they functioned very well for a long time at keeping riffraff and people morally unfit for Office from ever coming close to the White House, up until we threw open the doors to the smoke filled rooms and made it so any DINO or RINO could run for President under the Party banner which is now we ended up with President Trump and Bernie Sanders was twice a serious contender in the Democratic Primary despite not serving as a member of the Democratic Party. Juries have absolute power over one simple question: guilty or not guilty, and peoples’ lives hang in the balance of that question.

Liberty is natural, but we do temper it with morals (it is sinful to kill) and laws (we will execute killers). There is no justice in lawlessness, and if men were Angels we wouldn’t need justice.

> Another thing is that liberty is very difficult to define, and anything from a libertarian paradise to a socialist one (as in Scandinavia) can be the most liberty for different people.

This speaks to our collective failure as a society to regulate our morals and understand our liberty. In part it is because we rely too much upon the State to do so for us. What societal understanding we do have of our own liberty is rooted in our liberties under the Common law, which despite its name, is as much tradition as it is law, traditionally tempered by Courts of law and equity, but which can be overturned by statute; and the natural law.

We don’t have a law saying that you have a right to live, to have sex, to have children, and to form a family. Nor do we have laws saying that you have a right to engage in commerce. These are rights, but not rights in the positivist sense where the State will provide these things for you under rational principles, but rights that are intrinsic to being born alive and grow healthy enough to engage in these pursuits. If you are sterile, you cannot sue for a remedy from nature for this misfortune, although our society is vast enough and complex enough that you might still form a family by other means, it is not owed to you.


> Im thinking as a French I had to fight a lot with free speech absolutists abroad, while at home we're quite okay with selective censorship... it sounds scary to an American sometimes, but hell we dont care :D

I'm not surprised you're being downvoted as I've tried to make this point with American friends before and gotten the same reaction 10/10 times.

To use a very topical example: in other jurisdictions outside of the US, racism is a crime, and speaking out in favor of it or discriminating against someone verbally is not protected by free speech.

In fact, jurisdictions outside of the US often do not even have a definition for the "right to free speech" – it's obvious that you can say whatever you want.

It just so happens that by saying some of those things you may be doing something illegal, not unlike how threatening someone isn't a protected action in the US. So it's not so much a matter of censorship, but one of limits to rights. Every right has certain limitations, and free speech isn't absolute, be it in America or elsewhere.


And in those other jurisdictions you don't have free speech. A woman in Austria was convicted of blasphemy for a factual statement, because it hurts the feelings of people following that religion. Apparently our European human rights that say they protect free speech don't protect free speech.

Free speech as a strongly held value is incredible, because it avoids situations like the above (Austria). It also avoids situations where the police pay you a visit to check your thinking over a tweet (UK). It also avoids the situation where a teenager gets arrested for quoting rap lyrics on Instagram (UK). It also avoids situations where you can be fined for insulting the president by holding up a sign that says "get lost, you prat" (France). It also avoids situations where the government can refuse to allow (not ban, simply do nothing) the publishing of video games, movies, and books in the country (Australia and New Zealand).

Note that in the French case the ECHR actually got their act together and found the French law to be in violation of free speech. If that situation had happened in the US then there wouldn't have been a fine in the first place, because the right to free speech is that important.

People accept these kinds of things, because they don't think they'll ever be in the wrong. However, when it happens to them there's no real recourse.

Edit: keep in mind that that are the countries that are considered to be doing well.


The recent flux of videos of US policemen physically assaulting people making use of their free speech right tends to make me think it's not in fact "that important" in the US to be honest.

You're absolutely not wrong that this detracts from it. However, the courts in the US won't side with the policemen on this. They seem to be rather protective of the first amendment.

As an aside, police violence happens in the countries I mentioned. Not as much, but it does happen. Eg the yellow vest protests in France had a problem with this.


I really don't follow. The police doing something that the population doesn't support, doesn't mean the population supports the police actions. Not to mention "use of free speech" in this context is a big disingenuous. Are the police attacking people who are speaking their mind? Protesting and being asked to clear an area? Rioting? Peacefully protesting? Etc.

Free speech is extremely important in the United States, especially amongst sensible, regular everyday people. There are some elements on the far left who have been turning against free speech, but thankfully they are fringe groups that are largely ignored (Antifa/BLM Marxists, etc.)


Well, let's take an example : "It also avoids situations where you can be fined for insulting the president by holding up a sign that says "get lost, you prat" (France)."

The police fined the guy, which doesn't mean that the french people supported the police on this (they didn't), and that the law supported the police on this (it didn't).

So either police actions are a good scope to evaluate the importance of free speech, or either they aren't, but it shouldn't be only when it's convenient.


If free speech doesn't protect a person's right to say negative, bad, or even wrong things, it's not free speech. Even the strictest authoritarian regimes don't restrict people from saying approved or positive things--that simply wouldn't make sense unless their goal is to have zero speech whatsoever.

> I've tried to make this point

"Point" in your comment means the muzzle of a gun, not a logical argument.


Oh. But can I think about something illegal ? Can I write something illegal down on paper ? Say something illegal quietly ? Can I say something illegal loudly in the middle of the forest ? Saying something is just a way to make your thoughts known by others. Thought police, and thought crime are just a tear drop away, it seems.

Sorry, but that's called the slippery slope fallacy

It's happening in the UK. Google "I need to check your thinking" for an example. You need to have some clear boundaries between speaking-crime and thought-crime otherwise they get blurred and you end up with something like McCarthyism.

@xwolfi Agree with you as long as majority of national community agree, it is ok. This is how democracy works the minority are suppressed one or the other way and things go the way majority wants. Indeed even on HN if a comment is down-voted it's greyed out so that people cannot read those minority views (obviously if its a hate speech can be flagged, which is already done, but then its thin line and needs tremendous restraint and transparency).

This is another slippery slope and Covid-19 will increase censorship further. Indeed India by censorship legitimize the censorship regimes around the world (including China).

Been working with Internet since it's early years in 1991 and hope it remains free. But it seems less and less likely given every country wants to create it's own Internet, as it became important for being in power.


India allows internet/app companies from other countries. It's just banning chinese apps because it is now in conflict with China.

Same as authoritarian states, e.g. Microsoft Bing and related social network linkedin works in China. Besides Europe and USA, China is one of the largest market for US and European technology companies.

Given the amount of censorship in India, treatment of its minority and arresting protestors without due trial for innocuous Facebook and twitter posts, because some politician or ruling administrations is hurt is not something one needs to be proud of.

As I said it's a slippery slope once the power is given to regime it's hard to get back.

Also just for information India's ranking on Internet Freedom for reference. [1]

[1] https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/freedom-in-the-world-...


yeah I agree to some extent. Current Indian govt. is quite fascist, but hopefully can be voted out (unlike the PRC in China). Not to say that they won't try their best to hold on to power and turn the secular state into a Hinduist one.

We can respect another nation’s sovereignty without respecting their authoritarianism. I very much believe we should be disrespecting the hell out of authoritarian States, much more than we do so now because authoritarianism doesn’t stop at the borders, it stops at the practical limit that a State can enforce its laws which is why when the NBA was quite literally kowtowing to the PRC, we had a problem with that.

PRC corporations have a history of behaving in a mistrustful manner, combined with their obligations to the PRC State which treats its citizens as subjects, and sometimes not even its citizens, but anybody of Chinese descent, PRC corporations absolutely should be singled out and treated with mistrust. Our corporations have the obligation to turn a profit for their shareholders and sometimes that even means entering into a contract with the government, but theirs also have the obligation to advance the interests of the State. Dual mandates, even when not initially at odds with each other, often eventually come into conflict with each other, and State-owned or controlled corporations often don’t even have the profit incentive but are instead subject to politics. See also: the American corporations Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for examples of why they’re a bad idea, although their enterprises are domestic.

This is off topic but since you brought it up, we’re not the free speech absolutists that we believe we are. What we took issue with specifically was the idea of a central government regulating speech, assembly, the press and the establishment of churches. We still had established churches for quite some time, but they were governed by the States, not the United States. Let me quote you the First Amendment:

> Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Everything you really need to know is in the first five words. It’s a prohibition on Congress, not a grant of rights, and this would later come to be incorporated against the States as well such that their legislatures have the same restrictions. The reason this amendment exists at all was 1. To quell dissent from the Anti-Federalists which campaigned against the Constitution in the ratification conventions and 2. Because then and now, we’re a nation of dissenters. Many of the people that migrated from Europe to the United States were religious dissenters or penal colonists living in exile. I don’t know to what degree you studied the Huguenots in French history, but they made a few attempts to establish themselves, each time French politics seeking their resupply attempts after the initial landing, before receiving a land grant in what is now Brooklyn, and then was part of the New Netherlands.


As a french I completely disagree. These laws are harmful to everyone who dears to speak.

In France, censorship is a real problem for most intellectuals and individual citizens . Assa Traoré, the leading personality protesting against police violence has been repeatedly sued. Charlie Hebdo, the satiric newspaper that was attacked by terrorists who killed 12 people had been repeatedly sued. Eric Zemmour, a right-wing intellectual has also been condemned for speaking. Citizens who have placed a "Macronavirus" (concatenation of Macron, our president and Virus) sign in front of their house have spent a night at the local police station.

"Hate Speech" is a way too broad definition. And the censorship in France is getting bigger and bigger, notably since the highly-controversial Avia Law that forces Social Media platforms to censor "Hate Speech".

All these examples, have been made with non-evil governments. Our current president is a centrist and the last one was a leftist. Now, imagine what could happen when the far-right has to decide what "Hate Speech" is? I don't want to live that, and the Rassemblement National has been rising to dangerous levels.

We would be much better with constitutional and absolute free speech as in the US.


>Corporations as a rule, and there have been exceptions, but as a rule have none of those powers. Theoretically the worst crimes they’re going to commit are fraudulent in nature and crimes of negligence.

Not that clear cut. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_Wars


Gonna have to emphasize that bit where I said there are exceptions a bit louder then, but this isn’t one of them. That was an imperialist project prosecuted by United States Military under the direction of the United States civilian government.

I was thinking more about companies that have actually had militaries, the Dutch East India Company being a prime example.


Aren’t big corporations usually lobbying the US government? Under this perspective I cannot really trust them more than any government.

Well let me ask you then. What is the difference between companies lobbying for their own interests, often in competition with other corporate interests, and companies taking marching orders from the State?

I think there’s a difference, but if you don’t think so, why?


This is ridiculous nonsense.

You have a good point. But TikTok is much more risky, and as as such requires much more scrutiny given existing body of knowledge between how chinese social media / chat companies such as WeChat enforce government censorship and aid in propagating misinformation.

This might be a shock to most people in the western world, but if you go on almost ANY news website in china, the headline news is dedicated to government propaganda.

The reality is that Chinese firms and government operates together intimately. Nearly all sizable firms have a party secretary that is involved in board level decisions, and steps in when things get political. You can ponder who has the final say.


> The reality is that Chinese firms and government operates together intimately

No, I get this, but here's the thing: YouTube and, more specifically, it's advertisers do everything that you're accusing China of. There are material consequences if YouTube doesn't keep in line. What this means is that a status quo that pleases advertisers will be maintained.

It's every bit propaganda as dropping leaflets, but you can't point out a boogeyman pulling the strings.


These are not even remotely equivalent things.

Advertisers are not a homogeneous block. YouTube et al can afford to piss off some advertisers; if they're pissing off all advertisers, the material is probably extremely objectionable to most humans.

I challenge you to point out an example of content that has been banned from youtube because it offends advertisers, that you really think the banning of which is a significant issue. There's no shortage of material on YT hypercritical of Goldman "Vampire Squid" Sachs.

Whereas there is a long litany of material banned from Chinese networks for obvious political reasons. Furthermore, if you don't like YT's policy, you can use other video sharing sites or even gasp host your own videos. Try doing that in China and see how long it takes for men with guns to show up.


YouTube's algorithm suppresses LGBTQ content more than usual which is something that most people agree shouldn't be suppressed. At the same time, I don't think it's because advertisers want to suppress the content. I just think it's a bug with YouTube's algorithm.

Could it be that it’s just not as popular as one might think?

No. Keeping out LGBT related keywords was shown to increase their performance.

Yeah but is it the algorithm suppressing such content, or is that outside of a vocal minority, similar tags reduce interest in the content, on average?

So a thing that you should know about YouTube is that if a video is demonetized, it loses ranking in search engines. Since videos seem to be automatically demonetized if they have LGBT related tags, it is much more likely that the lose in ranking is due to the demonetization that is due to the LGBT content.

It might be the case that advertisers aren’t interested in such content at all. I think similar things happened with PewDiePie a lot before he started censoring himself.

Instead of trying to derive the reason for the suppression of LGBT content on YouTube from first principles or hunches, maybe you should dig into the evidence first.

https://www.theverge.com/platform/amp/2018/6/4/17424472/yout...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/08/14/youtube...

https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/lgbtq-...


In that last story did the suit go anywhere? It was 2017.

The washingtonpost story can be proven false. Whenever I add the word lesbian to a video title traffic goes up 4x the average.

The everage article was interesting. Keywords trans or transgender could put the video into a more mature sexualized context. Most searches with that term probably have a mature/porn intent. It's one of the more popular sexual preferences by keyword search volume so the context of other words matter more.


First of all, are you certain YouTube is blocking content? I am not so convinced. Also, define "most people". I, personally am pro civil liberties and am pro LGBTQ+ rights, however there are vast swaths of the world where LGBTQ+ is not only frowned upon by society but actually illegal at the nation state level.

> YouTube's algorithm suppresses LGBTQ content more than usual

Similar story with Tumblr. I had been using Tumblr for a good many years, for non-pornographic use/material (I shoot landscapes and buildings, and I liked the way I could post/group my photos). It pissed me off though when they (Tumblr) clamped down on sexual content, because it really hurt the LGBTQIA+ communities. A similar clamp down on Pinterest also made me drop them equally fast.

I don't know what conservative agenda they took on, but there were other ways to "protect the sensitive eyes" of their conservative users, without shutting down freedom of expression.


I don't get how you can come so close to hitting the nail on the head and still miss it?

Content that is specifically about LGBT issues is almost always going to involve sexuality at some point or another. Advertisers are skittish about their ads running next to such content. Tumblr wanted to become more attractive to advertisers, so they clamped down on sexual content. By clamping down on sexual content, they also incidentally clamped down on LGBT content. They probably also clamped down on people talking about straight sexuality as well, but that doesn't raise censorship alarms because the explanation for "censorship" is just plain typical American prudishness that is generally accepted.

This is almost certainly the same dynamic at play on youtube.

You can call this a "conservative agenda" if you want, but IMHO you are twisting the debate to frame it as a political wedge issue when it really isn't.


I don't think you could have proved their point any harder.

The equating of sexuality (an identity) to sex (an action) and specifically targeting identities that are not straight _is_ the problem. Under Yahoo (and in a bumbling attempt to adhere to App Store guidelines), completely safe for work content (from discussions to screenshots from media to even teenagers venting or asking for advice) that happened to contain words like "lesbian" got censored/marked as NSFW - meanwhile content that was much more sex-related than that (e.g. a gif from a movie showing two straight characters kissing or getting handsy) would pass just fine. But of course, it's "twisting the debate" to find it absurd and obviously homophobic that a girl _typing_ about wanting to marry another girl someday is considered pornographic in comparison.


As you say, not understanding the difference between sexuality and sex is exactly the problem.

Where we disagree is I do not believe this is any kind of moral judgement biased against LGBT content. It's just that content explicitly designed to be LGBT is going to trip stupid automated moderating systems, just like content explicitly designed to be about BDSM or any other kind of sex related topic, whether it is LGBT or not.

Images are a different kind of problem entirely. Again, computers don't understand context. Recognizing a boob or a penis is hard, but still relatively easy compared to understanding that images can be highly sexual without any overt images of sex.

Yes, these sites don't understand the context you want them to understand. But no, I don't think it's a politically conservative motivated judgement (in all likelihood of course, I can't say for certain... and likely neither can you).


>to trip stupid automated moderating systems

Sex/Sexuality/Gender/etc.

There is some confusion on these. One has to do with identity, the other has to do with sexual partner choice. I.e. I was born a man, I feel like a woman. In an unrelated (to identity) note, I prefer X-Y-Z as my sexual partner.

The conservative/conservatism bit has to do with the hypocrisy that man, woman should be the only available choices of gender, and that "man + woman" should be the only allowed sexual partnership. I will not bring religion to the discussion, it only makes things shittier.

This (imho) is the founding stone of fascism, you are different than me (postpartum gender change not allowed), and your choices are different than mine (man + woman, and no other combo allowed).

When a company suppresses and eventually kicks out these communities, they may be doing it for the $$$$, but in the end of the day they ostracize people only because of their identity and choices. As for the “stupid automated moderating..” I call bullcrap. It is a mix of hate and incompetency. But driven by hate and conservatism.

If Tumblr wanted, they could have created an tagging mechanism that could facilitate people to find their own groups/fandoms.


> But no, I don't think it's a politically conservative motivated judgement

Censoring the literal word "lesbian" is not a politically/socially conservative judgment to you?

Okay.


Since when did conservatives use Tumblr?

Same reason as Facebook: advertisers don't want their ads shown next to controversial content. As a matter of fact, the LGBTQIA+ communities aren't all about sex, and it's homophobic to say they are.


The whole point is that non-sexual content (Eg: references to being gay) got banned as sexual.

> YouTube et al can afford to piss off some advertisers; if they're pissing off all advertisers, the material is probably extremely objectionable to most humans.

You don't have to have consensus from advertisers to ban something. If an advertiser of significant enough size, or a block doing similar, threatens, YouTube will listen.

> I challenge you to point out an example of content that has been banned from youtube because it offends advertisers, that you really think the banning of which is a significant issue.

You don't have to ban it, you just have to demonetize it and content creators will fall in line.

> Whereas there is a long litany of material banned from Chinese networks for obvious political reasons.

I really think you need to reckon with this. You speak a lot about hosting your own shit, but, as American hegemony crumbles, your consumption will meet road blocks.


All American companies move in lockstep. We see one company after another pull out of facebook advertising very quickly last week. They work together as a group with a consistent goal.

This week we saw one social media platform after another ban the same people. The North American cartel moves together as one, once again.

You can host your own videos but if you do expect to be banned by paypal and mastercard and visa. Because all north american companies are just different faces of the same underlying entity.

Chinese companies offer real competition to that. Chinese companies are very good for my political freedom.


> Chinese companies offer real competition to that. Chinese companies are very good for my political freedom.

I would not totally agree with that statement. In some ways I may be able to speak more freely as a foreigner on Chinese run platforms because China might not care to suppress the same news that American run platforms would try to suppress. I would not agree that they offer political freedom. The CCP does not believe in any level of free speech. For an example see the recent news. Not only do they want to suppress it but even outside China they try to erase that history.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2020/06/12/zoom-...


I'm not going to say Chinese companies are better than American. But having both available is better for me than only having American.

Amen.

That's why Blizzard decided to come out against the Hong Kong people? Western companies don't move in lockstep because they scramble in whatever direction they think a dollar is in.

I can name plenty of western companies that have come out in support of the Hong Kong people and plenty that have abandoned them for a quick buck. Can you name one Chinese (Not Honk Kong or Taiwanese companies, these are under different governments) company that has come out in support of the people of Hong Kong against the CCP?


I don't disagree that no company has spoken out, but given that "the Hong Kong people" are not a singular entity and support for the protestors in so far as their methods go has been declining, it simply does not make business sense to do so, which is to say nothing about what's morally right as business rarely takes moral stances.

A few high profile companies deciding to stop advertising on Facebook is not "All American companies move in lockstep". Thousands of companies still advertise on Facebook, and Facebook is still doing fine.

Tell me what kind of videos you'll be banned by payments companies over, please. Because I used to run the (at the time) biggest BDSM porn company on the internet, and yes we took credit cards.

There is no "North American cartel". There are no chemtrails either.


> Tell me what kind of videos you'll be banned by payments companies over, please.

Videos showing American war crimes, specifically the “capital murder” video on wikileaks, which caused visa, paypal and mastercard to all pull the ability to use their services to donate to wikileaks.


Do you mean this video, "Collateral Murder", which is currently available on Youtube?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rXPrfnU3G0

Doesn't look very banned to me.


>All American companies move in lockstep. We see one company after another pull out of facebook advertising very quickly last week. They work together as a group with a consistent goal.

Sounds like they're moving in lockstep in response to public sentiment. Is that a bad thing?


If American public sentiment wants my country destroyed, then it's a bad thing for my country. Today they don't but who knows about tomorrow? Extremists are taking over and the situation is unfolding in very unpredictable ways.

>If American public sentiment wants my country destroyed, then it's a bad thing for my country.

Might be bad for you, but probably not bad for Americans. The people have spoken and the corporations are doing their bidding. Sounds like what most people want from their government. This as opposed to China, where an autocrat is deciding what to do and enforcing his will onto his subjects. Whether it's ethical or not is besides the point, because otherwise this conversation just devolves into a discussion on the merits of democracy.


"but probably not bad for Americans"

That is scary.


While private corporations also have incentives and private individuals bring their own biases into play, there remain extremely important differences between the capabilities of corporations and states. State actors can effectuate arrests within their own territory, deploy military assets, make territorial claims, conduct assassinations, and generally use their information-gathering and influence to support significantly more violent goals.

Like, I get that the milquetoast world advertisers want to live in is some kind of lens that colors the views and opinions presented by their platforms. It's just that the worst that happens from being influenced by it is it that you live a more boring life and consume more product. That's not nearly as worrying as being influenced to hating racial minorities in an attempt to distract from the South China Sea or something.


> State actors can effectuate arrests within their own territory, deploy military assets, make territorial claims, conduct assassinations, and generally use their information-gathering and influence to support significantly more violent goals.

Coca cola sent death squads into South America.

> That's not nearly as worrying as being influenced to hating racial minorities in an attempt to distract from the South China Sea or something.

I don't know if you've noticed, but there are currently protests going on in America over racist injustice.

> It's just that the worst that happens from being influenced by it is it that you live a more boring life and consume more product

And how do you think this interacts with the above point?


> Coca cola sent death squads into South America.

That's an argument against Coca Cola doing business in South America, not against banning an advertising platform in South America.


No, it's actually pointing out the statement I quoted is fundamentally wrong. Private corporations can and have done the same things you accused state actors of doing

So it's a difference in degree, not kind. My point stands. I'm far more concerned about an organization that has imprisoned thousands with essentially zero consequences than one that hired some paramilitaries and got in significant legal trouble for it.


The Spanish-American War was more than 130 years years ago

Sure but the company (now Named Chiquita) continues to do things that are illegal. For example: “ In March 2007 Chiquita Brands pleaded guilty in a United States Federal court to aiding and abetting a terrorist organization”

Also arms smuggling, anti-union activity (violence) etc.


>Private corporations can and have done the same things you accused state actors of doing

I mean yeah, since those corporations were acting like a quasi-nation state. If you're willing to go back far enough, you could also point to the East India company as evidence of corporate power, although in those cases they pretty much were the state in the areas that they operated. I'm not sure whether you could say the same about corporations today.


The concern is the coordination between Chinese foreign affairs/security services and the commercial sector.

For US-based firms, that’s simply not the case.

Yes, YouTube needs to make sure Nike is happy. But Nike didn’t just kill two dozen Indian soldiers.

Certainly there’s privacy related concerns with US companies - as with Chinese companies. But nobody had accused the DoD of manipulating YouTube search rankings.

If the DoD wants to conduct a YouTube propaganda campaign, they can buy advertising like everybody else.


> The concern is the coordination between Chinese foreign affairs/security services and the commercial sector.

> For US-based firms, that’s simply not the case.

Disingenuous or naive?


I don't know, I still remember how, in a poll before the invasion of Iraq, a majority of Americans though that Saddam Hussein was connected to the 11S attacks.

What are you trying to say here? That the DoD somehow was able to pressure the US media into supporting the Iraq war? Funny how they were able to do that, but wasn't able to get the "MSM" to get off Trump's back during his term.

Actually, from my readings I have the perception that the DoD was against the invasion of Iraq. But some elites decided that Iraq was going to be invaded and invaded it was.

Now somebody has decided that China is very bad, and here we are discussing how bad they are. Despise that in 1989 they massacred their population literally in the center of their capital, a few years later and until recently the investment in China grow exponentially. But, they are starting to be too powerful, so, they are not funny anymore. Now, we have to block their mobile apps.

What happened to Saudi Arabia by the way? Why are not the independent media talking about the relationship with them in the same way they talk about Iran?


And why a country that puts snipers to shoot on protesters and is planning the annexation of territory belonging to others (after several other illegal annexations) is the US's best friend?

I assume you are talking about Israel? There are quite a few countries that fit this description however.

> Yes, YouTube needs to make sure Nike is happy. But Nike didn’t just kill two dozen Indian soldiers.

Probably not the best company to choose given their history.


Technically: less the case.

Consider past agreements about/agency infiltrations to create backdoors and the like[0] or canary clauses[1] in licenses and why they exist.

Still better despite being only a partial mechanism for increasing balance between powers.

[0] https://www.gnu.org/proprietary/malware-microsoft.en.html

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warrant_canary


>> This might be a shock to most people in the western world, but if you go on almost ANY news website in china, the headline news is dedicated to government propaganda.

>> The reality is that Chinese firms and government operates together intimately. Nearly all sizable firms have a party secretary that is involved in board level decisions, and steps in when things get political. You can ponder who has the final say.

> No, I get this, but here's the thing: YouTube and, more specifically, it's advertisers do everything that you're accusing China of. There are material consequences if YouTube doesn't keep in line. What this means is that a status quo that pleases advertisers will be maintained.

You're basically saying: "YouTube has to please group X, TikTok has please group Y. Since they both have to 'please groups,' they're doing the same things!" That's a flawed comparison, because the the devil is in the details: the relevant differences between group X (YouTube advertisers) and Group Y (the Communist Party of China) get obscured when you're reasoning about such high level abstractions.


Here's one difference: the CCP is a totalitarian dictatorship that exerts direct control over Chinese corporations. Youtube, flawed as it is, is not that.

Either you compare the CCP to the US government or Tiktok to Facebook.

This.

Why must every single posting on Hacker News that involves China be flooded with whataboutism? It's a recurring thing, not even subtle.


Because China hasn't done anything remotely qualifies them to question to any other country ! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_websites_blocked_in_ma...

We can simply ignore the fact China is a totalitarian communist state, but in this case, we have not to talk about it at all, because literally every decision of CCP has the underlying motivation to weaken the national security of countries it believes to be Chinese enemies.

Whataboutism is a cowardly refusal to look inwards.

It is self-realization, not whataboutism ! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_websites_blocked_in_ma...

You know, as much as I think the whataboutism is trying to draw equivalencies that don't exist and make excuses for other nation states doing bad things, I'm more accepting of it now. As long as it's called out for being that.

Maybe I'm too optimistic, but we should always strive to be better. Just because the US could be doing as bad things as China or Russia, doesn't mean it shouldn't be better than it is now.


> Here's one difference: the CCP is a totalitarian dictatorship that exerts direct control over Chinese corporations.

Maybe we shouldn't have worked so hard to support building up their manufacturing base when we knew this all along.

Oh well, we just get to repeat the Dutch mistake of financing your enemy into having a robust manufacturing base until they gradually overtake global control.


YouTube and, more specifically, it's advertisers do everything that you're accusing China of

YouTube and its advertisers aren't countries, and aren't engaged in recent, deadly military skirmishes with India.


> YouTube and its advertisers aren't countries, and aren't engaged in recent, deadly military skirmishes with India.

It might help to read the parent posts I was replying to, but we're talking about the effects of black box algorithms.


Your initial reply was to this

>India is absolutely right in banning TikTok as it is a significant national securities threat.

which is exactly why YouTube and China are not equivalent. You're talking about abstract black box algorithms; no one else was.


> As long as the platforms recommendation and ranking algos are a black box, there is no guarantee that China isn’t conducting misinformation campaigns via the platform.

There is also no guarantee that Youtube is not manipulating its rankings to make the CCP happy. I think many American companies are too afraid to anger the CCP which has resulted in them filtering content the CCP would be offended by.

This is absolute nonsense, there are tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of videos on the subject. Watch a few of them (really not hard to do, just try keywords like Tienanmen or Uighur) and observe the results and your recommendations list later.

YouTube does simply not send people to concentration camps and torture them for uploading "wrong" videos. They get demonetized. If you don't see the difference I am not sure how to convince you.

Here's the thing, all those corporations you suggest are pulling strings and controlling things do not have a nuclear arsenal or national state security operations. There are material consequences if you do not toe the Chinese party line. As in you can pay for that with your freedom or your life.

YouTube doesn’t have concentration camps.

You're not wrong - and I'm extremely distrustful of the "ends" that commercial interests optimize for - but to be honest I feel like the commercial interests are at least more transparent.

Unless or until they approach the scale of a nation-state (and to be fair, many do) it seems like commercial interests are at the very least clear (and arguably market-driven and subject to competition).

For a specific if arbitrary example: I don't think Facebook values privacy (or YouTube free speech) but that's a side effect of their primary objective. Maybe it's a distinction without a difference, but it sure feels more sinister when the app is purpose built for privacy-invasion or opinion-manipulation.


The difference is that in Canada, I’m Canadian, I can say practically anything I want about the government and nothing bad would happen to me. If I were to be crazy and slander Trudeau calling him a pedophile or something I’d be ostracized socially by many people but I wouldn’t end up in jail. If you really want to test equivalencies I challenge you to fly to Beijing and accuse Xi Jinping of that in public and that would be the last anyone would see of you. The police would probably plant drugs on you and put you in a hole.

And in Canada, corporations are not exactly actors which perform rigid functions outlined by the government.. the liberals, who are currently in power, don’t have party members sitting at the top of companies whose function is to literally oversee compliance to liberal propaganda.

China isn’t quite as bad as western media makes them out to be, I’d argue that in many ways they have been improving and loosening up, but it’s silly to pretend that YouTube is no different than TikTok or that Amazon is no different than Alibaba.


Currently, the advertisers seem to be pulling back from "evil" and have done so in the past.

So they actually have a good influence, redirecting marketing dollars for "marketing" ( since it looks good on the outside).

China doesn't care, they even block Winnie the Pooh.


> This might be a shock to most people in the western world, but if you go on almost ANY news website in china, the headline news is dedicated to government propaganda.

Those people would be even more shocked by the extent to which this is true in the western world as well.


In China, all headlines are designed to propogate the SAME propoganda. In other parts of the world, all headlines are designed DIFFERENT propagandas.

“Look how many sauces we’ve got to choose from for McNuggets!”

That's right, including Russian sauce:

https://www.youtube.com/user/RussiaToday

3.9M subscribers, so they're pretty popular.


How disingenuous to compare our hard won institutions like the free press to condiments at a fast food restaurant.

Not even remotely true. The West has myriad choices to choose from in comparison. I don't think you understand how in sync the media is there. They'll literally run identical stories at the same time on every major network, and publish the same set of stories in their papers day after day.

Is it though? At least you can see different sides, different voices.

Different voices from the same narrow Overton Window.

Lets say it's December 2015 and I want to find out what ISIS has to say about it's activities.

It was nigh impossible to find unfiltered information from them.


And that is usually enough to placate Westerners. Even if, say, the "different sides" are just different heads of the same snake, which is often the case.

The only two political parties in the US, for instance, differ remarkably little in terms of foreign policy and labor rights. Headlines in major US media will virtually never indicate there is any significant room for debate here. The public is satisfied with the false dichotomy of "raise military budget by $100B" vs. "raise military budget by $200B".


> The only two political parties in the US, for instance, differ remarkably little in terms of foreign policy and labor rights.

Before Trump, I would probably have agreed with you, but these days, I don't know how you can say that. Trump has made major breaks with the foreign policy establishment over the past 3 years, and continues to do so (pulling half of our troops out of Germany is a good example of this). On labor rights, the two parties have been far apart for years. The GOP has intentionally and willfully attacked and degraded the National Labor Relations Board, allowing it to lose quorum and be sidelined.

If you broaden the policy proposals to health care, the parties are even further apart, with one party advocating for single-payer state funded health care, and the other advocating for the immediate elimination of subsidized health care for over 10 million people.

There may have be some issues where there is a general consensus between the parties, but there are plenty of very important issues where the parties are far, far apart.


Both parties broadly promote global US military and economic supremacy (unipolarity), draconic IP laws, corporate tax benefits, social division on immutable identity issues, anticommunism, etc. There is wiggle room (i.e. Overton window), as you point out, but the main thrust is clear and opposition is not tolerated in an institutional sense.

At best, the establishment Dems have been passive observers to the catastrophic erosion of social systems over the past 50 years.


Yeah, the parties are going to have things they agree on. The question is how much is that agreement out of line with what the citizenry want, or at least, what they think they want until the consequences of wanting that is rammed home by reality.

> Both parties broadly promote global US military and economic supremacy (unipolarity)

They seem to be doing a pretty bad job of preventing the rise of China as a second pole.


I never said they were good at it.

It doesn't mean that advocating for multipolarity isn't a political dead end in the US. Both parties are against it.


> Both parties broadly promote global US military and economic supremacy (unipolarity),

Maybe that's the goal but the execution is lacking. Seen from outside the USA it seems that the influence and the prestige of the United States are lower now than at any time in my life. The apex was any year in the 90s.

Obama started the trend. Trump accelerated it. Dealing with allies as if they were enemies doesn't help to keep a supremacy. Everybody needs friends, even big countries.


Yet youtube is filled with Marxist and socialist material. Major news networks talked about UBI during the Democrat primaries. We’re talking about what information is available in the US, not which policies have a chance in the current popular opinion.

> Yet youtube is filled with Marxist and socialist material.

YouTube is filled with virtually everything imaginable. Do you have the numbers and relevant comparisons to back this claim?


> YouTube is filled with virtually everything imaginable.

That’s the point FFS. I responded to the notion that google only allows fake disagreement by showing two ends of the same snake.


All the voices are within the Overton window though.

We're that much better at it that the masses think there are different sides. At the top, it's all the same.

> The reality is that Chinese firms and government operates together intimately

In China, the government has more power than corporations. In the US, corporations have more power than the government.


Which FAANG has nukes?

I suppose spacex isn’t part of the fang nor do they have nukes but pretty sure they might just have the best aim :)

Google's trove of collected personal information comparably powerful as nukes, if released.

No. It's not remotely close. Please think about what you are saying.

Who controls the military?

>This might be a shock to most people in the western world, but if you go on almost ANY news website in china, the headline news is dedicated to government propaganda.

I still can't get over the lack of self-awareness in this post.


> but if you go on almost ANY news website in china, the headline news is dedicated to government propaganda

Well I have news for you... Most of the news about international politics you read in the west are propaganda as well- and it works so well you're about to hit the downvote button in disbelief.


Why should India ban a Chinese social media company and not an US social media company, it's a matter of national security? This claim is just xenophobic nonsense.

One is a private corporation in a relatively progressive and free country, the other is a company controlled by an authoritarian nation-state. There's clearly a difference...

> One is a private corporation in a relatively progressive and free country,

I think he is referring to Google.


Google is a public company, not that it should matter in this context.

AFAIK “public company” is a misnomer shorthand for “publicly-traded company”, it has nothing to do with "public sector" or similar concepts. Publicly-traded companies are still private corporations.

It does mean there's a regulated level of transparency force on them

Because one attacked and killed Indian Soldiers, and has a active border dispute with India.

China bans every app ? Xenophobic nonsense ? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_websites_blocked_in_ma...

Wikipedia notes: This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it

There's nothing xenophobic about the claim that PRC blocks a huge portion of the internet. I operate several websites that are blocked by CCP in PRC, despite having no relation to any policy priority of the CCP or law/edict in PRC.


China is a special case because they are among the very few number of countries in the world where the government openly controls the media and the private companies.

A U.S. company like Twitter even bans the U.S. president's posts on their platform, and so does Facebook. Something like that is impossible in China as whoever does that will instantly get shut down. Think about the implication of this. This means you have to assume that any Chinese tech company will have to comply when the government tells them to spread some propaganda through their media.

This is what has been called in a science fiction as "information warfare", and it can be even more catastrophic than a real war, but I don't think most people realize this because they've never seen one before. What's even scarier is that even as this is happening, nobody knows this is happening, which is worse than a war because, unlike a physical war where everything is visible, one country can "attack" another country without anyone else realizing, causing a huge damage to their economy.


Forget the economy. The damage to social infrastructure and trust is far more serious.

Groups violently turning on eachother, families splitting over political divides, lynchings... these matter a lot more than whether people have nice cars.


If India (or any other country for that matter) would be in an armed conflict with the US, they would probably also consider banning various US controlled services.

China is not in armed conflict with US , why does it ban every app that civilized world uses ? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_websites_blocked_in_ma...

protectionism.

I asked about the algorithm thing--that's what I'm curious about. Where specifically does that belief end.

I'd guess that double-standards are inevitable and desired when there is an armed conflict between nations.

If Indian government sees no harm in US apps whilst banning Chinese apps, this is the definition of diplomatic pressure. Asymmetry is the tool used to apply this pressure.

Your point is valid - we have no way to know Facebook algorithms and it is a blackbox, but this isn't supposed to be a symmetric comparison for aforementioned reasons.


Biggest difference is motives, as long as we are making the assumption you mean private corporations that aren’t proxies for their respective government(s)

A private company will optimize profit, all things being equal. Sometimes this means it’s product/platform can be used to disseminate possibly dangerous information, but it also can be regulated in response.

Another government? Not so easy

Only way to really assert influence is through a much more narrow and limited scope like diplomacy, economic sanction, war, or otherwise influence the state/affairs of the country through target regulations like the ones mentioned in the article


> Sometimes this means it’s product/platform can be used to disseminate possibly dangerous information, but it also can be regulated in response.

I don't think this is true specifically in the case of America. Who are you going to get to actually grapple that beast of a multi national? Yeah, lots of people talk about it, but politics ultimately requires a degree of consensus.

When you have investors calling up their representatives saying they will donate to their opponent next election or they will move jobs out of the area, politicians are going to start falling off. Oh, these politicians are all probably invested in these companies to some degree, or maybe they rent apartments to their workers. There's also the gridlock issue that likely can't be resolved unless we start adding states, so legislation will be hard there.

Companies like alphabet and Facebook are the culmination of the last 40 years of politics in America.


Never intended for this to mean it was easy or anything. As you noted already it isn’t always. However this also admits it can be done as I mentioned too.

You can’t pass legislation that makes another government open itself up to transparency though. That’s the fundamental difference


> However this also admits it can be done as I mentioned too.

That wasn't the intention


It has been done tho

It’s about allies versus active enemies. There are shootouts on a regular basis between India and China, and they’ve intensified recently.

> There are shootouts on a regular basis between India and China, and they’ve intensified recently.

There are no "shootouts". There are standoffs sometimes (think once a year if you want to define regularity) due to the loosely demarcated Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China. It's usually a melee. Even the recent escalated incident wasn't a shootout. There are agreements between Indian and Chinese governments that prevent usage of firearms in standoffs like these.


I agree that "shootouts" is the wrong word, but "melee" doesn't quite capture the gruesomeness of human beings beating each other to death with spiked clubs.

20 Indian soldiers died just two weeks ago: https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/16/asia/china-india-border-clash...

Yes, I'm aware of the news. It still wasn't due to a "shootout".

> What’s happening along the Himalayan border is an unusual kind of warfare. As in the brawls last month, Chinese and Indian soldiers fought fiercely without firing a shot — at least that’s what officials on both sides contend. They say the soldiers followed their de facto border code not to use firearms and went at each other with fists, rocks and wooden clubs, some possibly studded with nails or wrapped in barbed wire.

From https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/16/world/asia/indian-china-b...


So it's just opportunism, then? Condemn the other; refuse reflection. Or am I misunderstanding you?

It's about harm and risk reduction. All other things held equal, you would expect your enemies to be doing more to undermine you than your allies would.

I can’t say what India’s motivation is for sure. Maybe there’s a credible threat in a way that Facebook isn’t. Maybe it’s just anti-Chinese fervor. But saying anything outside of India should be treated the same is not taking into account geo-politics and individual country’s behaviors.

Coordination with the US means jobs and economic opportunity for both sides. Coordination with China means gunfights and border tension.

It's pretty simple if you don't try to extrapolate everything to logical extrems. India and US is ally, India and China is rival. Full stop, it ends there. KISS


We live in interesting times, ripe for manipulation and propaganda, both if which China and Russia have spread in the EU during the last months. India's ban is completely warranted. The fact that they also have a border dispute with China only makes things worse. I'd rather they ban a few apps than escalation and war.

Using opportunity to actually perform a good thing for privacy (tiktok at least was found snooping all it can from users phones, not sure about the rest but given how chinese run things that would be expected).

No tear will be shed for those apps, regardless from which country they come from (I know this is very targeted due to recent tensions, but its still a step in the right direction re privacy)


Good point. But YouTube is not controlled by an authoritarian fascist-like government which has a world view in direct opposition to what you could refer handwaveingly as "western" and is currently pushing to become the dominant power in the world.

If you furthermore consider how bad the "western world" (mainly Britten and the East India Company) had treated it in the past, some aspects of the Chinese culture and the current Goverment direction western countries expecting any fair or reasonable treatment once china succeeded to become the worlds dominant power is kinda a sad joke.


This is a joke. The "western world" created PRISM and Five Eyes and has been meddling in elections in the third world for almost a century. Additionally, what do you define as the "western world", because by some measures it includes some actually fascist governments like e.g. Saudi Arabia.

A) Having democracy does not correlate with having transparency and freedom, this has been de facto proven.

B) If the "western world" is the bar, the bar is low.


Ah, people love to trivialize comparisons and disregard all context, especially intent.

By analogy you're basically equating tortute in order to prevent the detonation of a bomb to torture in order to detonate a bomb.

Yes, ethically all sides are compromised but as things stand they are by no means all the same.

Also, no one included SA as part of the West.


>By analogy you're basically equating tortute in order to prevent the detonation of a bomb to torture in order to detonate a bomb.

I really can not see how I am doing this. Care to illustrate?

>Also, no one included SA as part of the West.

Fair enough.


> refer handwaveingly as "western"

There is a reason why I used the word hadwaveingly.


>B) If the "western world" is the bar, the bar is low.

And yet China manages to fail this low bar stunningly. To the point that they are running actual concentration camps for Muslims. Something no Western government has done, and the last one to do finished paying reparations to the victims 4 years ago, 70 years after it happened.


Western governments literally have a history of slavery.

Right now, America is running actual concentration camps for African Americans.

Don’t think western governments are any better.


So does nearly every other country

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_slavery

Slavery was first abolished by the west. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_slavery#Abolitionis...

Global abolition of slavery was led by the league of nations in 1926

https://www.wikiwand.com/en/1926_Slavery_Convention


>Don’t think western governments are any better.

You are welcome to move to China if you think they are better.

After all I moved to the West because I thought it was better.


Seriously not a bad idea. China doesn’t have millions of corona virus infections. And restaurant and bars are open.

But they are white and Anglos so it is OK.

> The "western world" created PRISM and Five Eyes

What do you think PRISM and Five Eyes are? It is my experience that people who bring them up as huge evils have no idea what they are. They typically think that PRISM allows the NSA to read anybody's email (as opposed to being an ingestion system for data collected by the FBI) and that Five Eyes allows governments to indirectly spy on their own citizens, both of which are ridiculous ideas that are legally impossible.


They are electronic surveillance projects which have components that can be used by western governments to conduct blanket surveillance on their own and foreign citizens as illustrated by Wiki Leaks.

> has a world view in direct opposition to what you could refer handwaveingly as "western"

I don't think this is even hand-wavingly a thing. If it is then it doesn't bode well because "we" don't exactly have a great track record of treating people on the other side of the world well.


[flagged]


Trying to draw a parallel between Google and a country that literally tortures and murders its citizens for "unsanctioned beliefs" is disingenuous. Cut the bullshit.

Ignorance of US history of endless human rights abuses (including torture) both domestic and foreign by the US is not an excuse for being condescending and overly confident on an internet forum.

Let's talk about modern day since that's the topic at hand. Who was the last US citizen you know of to be arrested, detained, and killed for voicing opposition to the way the government is run. I'm not saying the US government is perfect (especially in this time, far from it), I'm just saying the comparison isn't remotely apropos. I would say I have the "correct" level of confidence in this regard.

I am talking about the modern day. Why the qualification "US citizen"? Are murders outside the border less of a crime? Are human lives outside the border less valuable? Also, is murder for using speech a much greater crime than murder for other reasons? There are very recent examples of unjust murder of US citizens by the government.

Maybe, but on the surface a lot of moralic values seem to somewhat align.

Also I wouldn't say that YouToube is controlled by an " fascist-lite corporate oligarchy". It something different then fascism, maybe even worse.

It's also off topic in that TikTok being banned doesn't mean YoutToube is better or shouldn't be banned. India just didn't have to fear a militaristic invasion of the US corporate oligarchy...


I'm from a western country and I know for a fact that homicide rate in US is 6 times worse than China

(6/100,000 in US VS <1/100,000 in China)

Maybe US has some problems on its own...


Plus, the average Chinese minority does not fear being shot by the police.

Google Uighurs. Being a minority in China means being subject to genocide.

While being a minority in US on the other hand...

Ask the Native Americans about it.


Even if the quality of these data sources were comparable it still wouldn't be relevant to this conversation. Career criminals killing eachother in major cities has nothing to do with foreign surveillance and human rights.

It has a lot to do with what kind of criminal lobby is in charge

As European I prefer Chinese communists to American warlords that can't stop selling guns to everyone

If you think about it, the "greatest democracy of the World" has homicide rates worse than Nigeria and Congo and is engaged in more wars than any other country.

Can an US citizen really criticize other countries for being fascist?

p.s. the data is good


If europe sides with China, they will eventually be cutoff like what is happening with China. It will take a couple of decades and I don't see it turning around to go back at this point.

The question for Europeans will be which market they prefer to do business in. Are you so sure you prefer your current choices? Does your country have memories from Stalin and Lenin? That's the type of communism you are getting with CCP with a huge helping of corporate espionage, manipulation, and double standards.


Everyone has problems, your comment is off topic and does not enhance the conversation.

US is currently the laughing stock of the world, look at the COVID-19 rate, it is going up after months of mismanagement by trump.

not many countries have problems like that, you can pretty much count on such countries on one hand - US, india and brazil.


[flagged]

verdverm 8 days ago [flagged]

Like rubber to glue, bounces off of me and back to you?

https://www.worldometers.info/demographics/life-expectancy/

25th percentile means 3/4 of the worlds nations have a lower life expectancy. If the concepts of many and few have switched, I might consider thinking about things you have posted the last few days.

Given your strong sentiments against several groups of people in blanket statements, I suspect you will find yourself consistently down voted and flagged when you speak like this.

Your tone has also been consistently combative, likely another reason you are being down voted


> 25th percentile means 3/4 of the worlds nations have a lower life expectancy

LOL

what did you miss from despite having the highest spending per capita?

US has the lowest life expectancy in the entire west.

And it's going down, not up.

It's 46th in that ranking, my country, Italy, is 6th.

USA is even below Lebanon and Estonia.

Lebanon has been at war for the past 40 years and has been bombed several times.

Do you think US citizen know that int their country life expectancy is worse than a country which is literally in ruins?

> I suspect you will find yourself consistently down voted and flagged when you speak like this.\

Do you really believe I care about the downvotes ?

You should care about living in a country where some living standards are lower than many third world countries,

- Infant mortality (deaths/1,000 live births)

USA is 46th, worse than Latvia, Lithuania, Cuba, Belarus, Estonia, Antigua and Barbuda

- Under-five mortality rate per 1000 live births.

USA is 44th, again after countries they consider thirld World, including ex USSR (Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Estonia) and Cuba

BTW, when you talk about other countries fascism, true or not, you should remember that in my country there are US military bases, not Chinese.

The Itavia Flight 870 was shot down in 1980 by NATO fighter jets fighting Libyan jets in civil air space, killing 81 people

It wasn't the Chinese

In the 80s CIA was involved with far right terrorism that killed many innocent people, they were scared that Italy was going "too leftist"

The father of a friend of mine was killed on the 2nd of August of 1980, he was waiting at the train station in Bologna.

We were both kids.

Wikileaks revealed the "Kissinger Cables", documents that Henry Kissinger sent to express the intolerance of the US administration for the Italian justice system that was "being too hard" on the neofascists groups.

If you look at the English Wikipedia page for "strategy of tension" and then at this https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategia_della_tensione_in_It... you will see there's a great difference in the story told and the amount of documentation presented. In particular any document that calls out the US, including all the evidence found in over 40 years of investigation by the Italian authorities, is not mentioned.

Can you guess why?

The Strage del Cermis (Cavalese cable disaster for you non Italian speakers) was caused by an US air pilot, 20 (TWENTY) people died.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavalese_cable_car_disaster_%2...

It wasn't the Chinese

And there are many other...

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Can you guess now why I don't care about your downvotes?


[flagged]


Since you've reverted to reguarly breaking the site guidelines, I've banned this account. I've also banned your other account because it's not cool to abuse HN as you've been doing. If you don't want to be banned, you're welcome to email hn@ycombinator.com and give us reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future.

Since you mention East India Company, what makes YouTube different from them?

Please do look into what the East India Company did, I'm in no way qualified to list out the very long list of crimes/misdeeds this company did.

But one large difference is that they had a private army and used it to force through their ways in any non EU country.

It is not absurd to say that the East India Company did occupy India like a country would have occupied another country they won against in a war.

They where also one of the main driving force behind the Anglo-Chinese War (see Opium wars).


You probably got the top point on the subject of "Compare the youtube with X, What about youtube they are Y" award with this one in the thread. There are quite a few of them with a spectrum of insanity, but this one is just hilarious.

For one, YouTube does not have a private army.

YT has a legal framework that gives it protection to an extent from government interference, especially where it touches upon freedom of speech. Whether they want to use it or not is another question.

But the Party can just put officials in the Douyin (TikTok) offices and ask for any encryption key without having to divulge anything and without the company having any recourse. This in complete legality.

Large corporations becoming the end point for debate is a real problem, but I don't think it really overlaps with public/private collusion (or the lack of true private in China's case).


You don't see a difference between an ideological party which interns millions of people by ethnicity (among other glaring issues), and a corporation seeking profits from a video platform?

On the question of black box algorithms, no because it's not relevant.

I would think that the reputation of the creator becomes even more critical when considering a black box algorithm.

TikTok apps add a vector for arbitrary code download and execution. What "algorithm" you get would seem to depend on what they'd like to run on your device that day.

> Nation state vs. private corporation is different on paper,

A nation state and a company are different in substance as well. I am sympathetic to the idea that companies (in America) can do more to curtail your freedoms. But, this is only true because of our system of government. In principle, a government can do much more than a company to curtail your freedoms. In practice, this is often less true. (although if you bump into eminent domain, or similar laws, then the government is much more threatening to you.)

We don't have to look far for this theoretical: the Chinese government rounds up people and puts them in camps, and disappears people for having the wrong opinions.


Because YouTube doesn’t have nuclear weapons and a plan to invade western allies?

Let's be honest here; if India's relations with USA had soured to the same degree as with PRC, Youtube would be the one getting banned.

USA and India are friends unlike CCP which can't be trusted by anyone.

No one in the entire world with half a brain trusts the US, or any state for that matter. Too much backstabbing. Ask the Kurds.

Politics does. That's the difference. Acting on above is solely depends on political bias instead of a concrete notice. No official research conducted and released stating the harm about the apps, right?

There are no private companies in China, all of the corporate entities directly or indirectly depend on CCP, which uses every opportunity to damage national security of its enemies.

Not to mention state sponsored private firm, being private is just optics.

On YouTube at least the user has the option to search and subscribe the videos, there by controlling what is shown, it is not the same with TikTok

Xi is censoring protests on their platforms, but it's clear that Trump can't.

That's a clear proof of difference.


hmm google or the ccp. Take your pick!

The Chinese State is based on Marxism-Leninism and wants to dominate the world. There is a difference in that and any other country that acknowledges natural rights. If you believe rights are innate, then you can’t openly tolerate a state that denies them.

I often think what would California look like if it had the laws of Texas. Or what would China look like if it had the structure and motivations of Nevada? Both have Elon Musk and gambling.


I mean, they both are made of people, right? And those people have brains that they use, right? And brains are made of molecules, right? At the end of the day it's all just molecules reacting to stimuli, and basically there's no difference. Because they are molecules.

Chinese immigrant in US here:

I don't think it's a stretch to state the risk of tiktok being mass propaganda machine, from India's perspective.

Additionally, I don't take this as a particular politically charged statement against China, as quite a few replies stated. The reason is that China and India are on a very delicate geopolitical environment. The history is long and ambiguous. The current rivalry is subtle and dangerous. You just cannot give any chance in this situation. After all, China do not have any foreign social network services anyway. There is no reason to gift the opponent an potential upper hand.

The Pandora's box was formally opened in the Arab spring already. It was a well intended start, followed with an ugly development and messy prospect left for generations to suffer and struggle.

Now the whole idea of social networking services as an actual helper of connecting people with different cultural background roughly reduces to nil. That really was a buffer.

Lastly, I don't think it makes sense for any sovereign government to force their country's corporation to serve them directly.

That would immediately destroy any chance of those organizations to expand beyond their home country. Someone might argue Chinese firms are OK to that because they had a big market already. That's a totally unreasonable imagination on Chinese business men's brain structure. I never encountered any such Chinese business man who believe loyalty to CCP is higher than their profit. Other argument is that Chinese law can coerce, but all the laws are saying the company ought to corporate when necessary for the security of the country. I cannot imagine any sane political personnel can convince anyone else that offensive propaganda in peace time is necessary for national security. At least I did not see any such behavior or even minor behavior with hint of such reasoning from past history.


>As long as the platforms recommendation and ranking algos are a black box

All platforms recommendation and ranking algos are ultimately a black box. Why is TikTok special here?


TikTok is controlled by an authoritarian dictatorship engaged in a war against Western/Democratic values and human rights.

Not sure if you're talking about China or some Silicon Valley technocracies.

Don't cut yourself on that edge there mister.

Many around of the world see the US also an authoritarian state with little regard for human rights.

Many also ask the US for assistance and see it as a guiding light. A lot of people are upset about the visa changes, there's a reason for that, yes?

puppet state is nothing new

Not at all relevant. The post and this comment chain are about India and China.

How is US remotely comparable to China?

This is funny, can you elaborate how come a ranking algorithm is a national security threat? It reminds me of the time when Google/FB/Instagram/Twitter still worked in China, Chinese govt used the same excuse to ban big tech social platforms.

Propaganda is powerful. If China wanted to send a message to change public opinion around the world tweaking the recommendation algorithm to do that would be a very helpful tool.

The CCP band western propaganda platforms, which Facebook etc could be said to be. Fine, I think any set of ideologies need propaganda, like every company needs advertisement.

If you understand that, then surely you must see the symmetry in banning Tiktok etc?


The great firewall should work both ways, otherwise it encourages more selective censorship.

Well technically China did it first. China banned tons of foreign apps or websites because "significant national securities threat"

In the case of Facebook being banned, there is precedence for that.

https://www.fool.com/investing/2020/01/23/facebook-banned-in...


foreign apps or websites?

99.9% of them are US apps and websites. you don't need to ban india apps in China as I've never heard any of them, you don't need to ban india website as the india infrastructure won't be able to serve requests from a country like China anyway.


Serving large number of requests is not an unsolved problem which only China has monopoly on. You just spin up more servers in the cloud as you get more and more users. Cloud platforms like AWS, Google Cloud and technologies like Kubernetes, Docker etc has made the job way too easy.

Anyway, India's hotstar holds the world record of maximum number of consecutive users watching a live stream.

https://gadgets.ndtv.com/entertainment/news/hotstar-world-re...

https://techcrunch.com/2019/05/12/hotstar-disneys-indian-str...


> India is absolutely right in banning TikTok as it is a significant national securities threat.

This is just a lame attempt at economic warfare and "misinformation campaigns" is a very weak excuse.

What concerns me the most is that in 2020 people are overwhelmingly in favor of governments and corporations controlling what their people watch and read and think.


This is a consequence of Brexit and the election of Trump, democratic decisions that caught many people in power by surprise. Sophisticated use of social media platforms turned out to have a significant influence on public opinion. Although I agree that in principle everyone should be enabled to seek out their own information sources and form their own independent opinions, this is not what happens in the age of polarized sensationalist identity politics.

Very interesting. I would like to know more about this thought.

Is the problem, let's say, with:

- the country of origin, so if this was the exact same app from US it would have been less harmful, or,

- the amount of time people spend on it, so if people spent time on something like facebook it would have been less harmful?


The amount of data they harvest off the app is scary, but I wish we'd be just as strict with Google over it. It's like the industry is slowly moving towards limiting these things, or making this type of spying much more covert as new things become exposed like the clipboard thing that TikTok does on iOS I can only imagine it's just as bad on Android, to the point where it should be a permission on a per app basis.

I think it is the sum of the two. They don't want the Chinese government to have that much influence over their population.

It is an extreme move, but I see the logic behind it.


All RS algorithms follows non-trivial logic based on the user’s feedback. They constantly adapt and upgraded. You can add some fuzzy-rules based on your moderation principles — remove porn, videos about flat earth, abusive content, and etc. But the core algorithm hard for interpreting.

Letting government step into this space creates an alternative form of censorship. I would rather ask all content platforms for transparent open-sourced moderation rules.

At the meantime, TikTok has a remarkable traction that put in a row of the greatest product of the decade. Previously ByteDance tried to move HQ away from China, but I now I guess they might even consider selling their product.

I guess it is more political decision rather than Indian government really cares about data security. Seems that US and specifically Facebook become the absolute winner in India.


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