With China expected to produce close to 8 million college graduates this year, finding suitable job positions is a top priority. But Chinese internet firms should pick up some of the slack as they strain to accommodate the government’s expanding mandate to control online speech.

On September 27, the Chinese social media mega-platform Weibo — with more than 340 million monthly users, surpassing the total population of the United States — posted on its verified “Weibo Manager” (微博管理员) account that it was seeking to fill 1,000 new “Weibo Supervisor” (微博监督员) positions. The platform said in the announcement that the supervisors would be working with its “special community supervision mechanism” to police “indecent, illegal and harmful information,” making regular reports.

This phone could be yours. The only price: your enthusiastic involvement in censorship of your fellow citizens. Photo by Julian Gong Min available at Flickr.com under Creative Commons license.

The ad offered performance bonuses for those who “effectively reported the most,” and even promised monthly “material rewards” including iPhones and tablets.

Free gear, in other words, for those young internet users who could demonstrate an aptitude and appetite for systematic snitching. And the iPhone, the device that perhaps more than any other symbolizes the idea of mobile empowerment, becomes a carrot inducing constraints on this very power.

The Weibo advertisement further illustrates the way internet censorship in China — increasingly the heart of censorship, period — has become an open and to some extent legitimised endeavor in recent years. Gone, it seems, are the days when media control thrived on secrecy, and the undocumented phone call from the propaganda official to the newspaper editor was the nature of the beast.

It’s difficult to gauge, in a closed information environment like China’s, how people actually feel about constraints on expression and information, but it does seem that the notion of “cybersecurity,” which points to real and personal threats to citizens everywhere in the world, has helped to mask the more insidious forms of political censorship designed to buttress the Party’s dominance over the whole society. Who, after all, doesn’t want to be safe?

Here, in any case, is a translation of the Weibo advertisement for “Weibo Supervisors,” followed by a translation of the text on the first 3 slides accompanying the post.

Weibo Manager

September 27, 12:05 from 360 Security Browser

[We seek] #Weibo Supervisors# [话筒] In order to implement our company’s responsibilities, strengthen netizen supervision, clean up the Weibo community environment and effectively handle indecent, illegal and harmful information. Under the leadership of the Beijing Municipal office of the Cyberspace Administration of China, Weibo has established a special community supervision mechanism, and we announce publicly to all users that we are seeking 1,000 Weibo Supervisors. Weibo Supervisors use a special reporting mechanism to report and handle indecent, illegal and harmful information, and the website issues online subsidies to licensed Weibo Supervisors on the basis of reporting statistics, and presents these [subsidies] to Weibo members. At the same time, we offer material rewards monthly to those Weibo Supervisors who have effectively reported the most [cases], with prizes including iPhones, domestically produced phones or tablets, etc. We invite all web users to actively register to participate as Weibo Supervisors. For registration methods and other relevant information please see the following:

SUPERVISING AND CLEANING UP WEIBO TOGETHER

[Weibo Supervisor]

01 What is a Weibo Supervisor?

In order to implement our company’s responsibilities, strengthen netizen supervision, clean up the Weibo community environment and effectively handle indecent, illegal and harmful information. Under the leadership of the Beijing Municipal office of the Cyberspace Administration of China, Weibo has established a special community supervision mechanism, and we announce publicly to all users that we are seeking 1,000 Weibo Supervisors. Weibo Supervisors use a special reporting mechanism to report and handle indecent, illegal and harmful information, and the website issues online subsidies to licensed Weibo Supervisors on the basis of reporting statistics, and presents these [subsidies] to Weibo members.

02 What are the conditions?

A: Registration for at least one year [on Weibo]

B: A social creditworthiness score of at least 80%

C: A binding mobile phone number

We invite all who are willing and enthusiastic to take part in the management of the community, and those users who have experience monitoring to register as supervisors.

03 What is the Working Mechanism?

Weibo Supervisors use 业余时间 to conduct effect reporting against indecent, illegal and/or harmful information on Weibo on the condition of fairness and impartiality. [They must] take part in online trainings and offline events as organized by the site.

 

 

 

 

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