(TFC)— Youtube’s creators crackdown took a dangerous turn with the banning of a popular Chinese dissident’s account. According to reports, Guo Wengui’s account was suspended after mounting pressure by the Chinese government. Have we now entered a new level of media censorship, and what could this happen in the US?
Guo Wengui is a Chinese billionaire who fled his country in 2014, and is wanted by China under corruption charges. However, Wengui has used his time in exile to spread damning information concerning the very government seeking his conviction. Much of this was relayed through Webgui’s YouTube channel, which is now suspended. The unusual legal drama is disturbing the very foundations of the Trump Administration and its Justice Department.
According to Washington Times, current Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened to resign if Wengui was deported. This was only a small part of the larger, deeper, darker rabbit hole that has become the deportation case. Whereas Trump was initially keen to deport the former real estate tycoon, he later reconsidered.
That didn’t mark the only time certain segments of the American government showed cooperation with Chinese interests. It doesn’t help the Trump Administration that recent leaked documents show a questionable accumulation of power among tightly nite groups inside the government. Specifically, these collectives answer to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and a few of his aids.
So far, the suspension will last 90 days, while also stripping all live streaming. Whereas at least one video is blocked entirely, others remain viewable online. Wengui’s other social media, including his Twitter account, have also been affected by the YouTube ban. In months prior, Facebook also restricted the dissident’s ability to share content. Most of these restrictions block Wengui’s ability to stream, and share his main medium, videos
“What amazed me”, Guo Wengui said in a statement, “is that without consulting me and reviewing the video, YouTube censored my content and suspended my account.” The former businessman condemned YouTube for failing its role to “champion free speech.” Instead, it would appear the site was used for very precise political censorship and control.
Although augmented by his political status and conflicts with the Chinese government, Guo Wengui’s story isn’t unlike many other YouTubers. Recent months have seen the video giant not only embrace, but expand censorship and demonetization. The author’s account has also been affected, with several videos demonetized without any recourse for review. Several other online talk shows and indie-outlets have also been severely impacted by YouTube’s crackdown.
Guo Wengui’s most recent brush with censorship shows a concerning evolution in YouTube’s control of content. It’s an unusual state of play when governments can outright request censorship to social media companies. America’s situation has simmered to where today sites like Facebook are known to sell user data to law enforcement. The algorithm is supposedly targeting fake news remove powerful content, as often happened during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.
How often does this play out in the background where we can hardly notice? What requests has the American government made under Trump, Obama, or any other president? And in an era where each month only brings similar stories, how far can it go? Guo Wengui’s case demonstrates a concerning evolution in the modern era of YouTube censorship control.