China Imposes Tighter Censorship of ‘Pornographic Words’ Online

CYBERSPACE—A boom in the popularity of “web novels,” books that are written and published online, has prompted the Chinese government to tighten its already strict censorship rules, screening not only for political messages that the ruling Communist Party of China deems questioknable, but also for “pornographic words,” according to a report by The South China Morning Post, an English-language newspaper based in Hong Kong. In the country of 1.4 billion people, an estimated 454 million, most of them young people, regularly read web novels, according to a separate Morning Post report. On China Literature, the largest online publishing platform, nearly three of four authors who signed up in 2019 were under 25 years old, and two of every three paying readers were under 30. By contrast, the entire population of the United States is now about 331 million, more than 120 million fewer than the number of web novel readers in China. About half of all internet users in China are regular web novel readers, according to stats reported by The Morning Post. While the vast majority of online books are written in a Chinese language, China Literature has also published about 90,000 novels in English. But the sudden, massive popularity of the format, allowing readers to access original literature in more than 20 genres on their phones, as well as computers and other mobile devices, has now drawn the attention of the Chinese government, which already exercises perhaps the world’s most severe internet censorship.  According to a 2019 Freedom House report, China was the worst violator of internet freedoms in the 12 months from June 2017 to May 2018.  Now, the CPC wants to be sure that web novels reflect what it calls “healthy and positive” attitudes, and “correctly guides public opinion,” according to the Morning Post report.  The head of The China Writer’s Association internet committee, Youquan Ouyang, said that the industry is already under heavy government control to weed out “pornographic” and other supposedly objectionable content. He worries that the new regulations could “kill the enthusiasm” for online literature. “It’s already strictly regulated,” Ouyang told The Morning Post. “We have the ‘clean internet’ initiative [aimed at pornographic content]. The publications are already very clean.” But the government said that it wants “higher quality” material published online. Under the new rules, not only would content be more strictly censored, but authors would need to register under their real names, and online comments would be subject to stricter censorship as well. Photo By CottonBro / Pexels 

written by: Lawrence Avery

source: China Imposes Tighter Censorship of ‘Pornographic Words’ Online | AVN

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