YouTube has been deleting certain anti-Communist Party comments written in Chinese, adding even more fuel to widespread public speculation that social media giants are kowtowing to the Chinese government by censoring criticism while allowing Chinese government propaganda to be plastered all over their sites without issue.
According to The Verge, YouTube is blaming an error for why comments containing two anti-Communist Party phrases – which translate to “communist bandit” and “50-cent party” in English and are both commonly used China – were routinely caught and automatically deleted by the video platform’s algorithm that’s allegedly designed to weed out spam and “offensive” speech.
The company confirmed to The Verge this was happening in error and that it was looking into the issue.
“This appears to be an error in our enforcement systems and we are investigating,” said a YouTube spokesperson. The company did not elaborate on how or why this error came to be, but said it was not the result of any change in its moderation policy.
“The term '共匪' is an insult that dates back to China’s Nationalist government, while '五毛,' (or 'wu mao') is a derogatory slang term for internet users paid to direct online discussion away from criticism of the CCP. The name comes from claims that such commenters are paid 50 Chinese cents per post,” the Verge explains.
The report adds that “mistake” has been allowed to occur without being caught for more than six months, despite the fact that multiple users had left comments on YouTube’s helpdesk about the issue. The algorithm is only catching the Chinese character version of the phrases, while the English translations haven’t been affected. YouTube, which is owned by Google, is claiming the phrases were somehow mistakenly added to their algorithm’s auto-delete system.