Source: NYT (5/18/22)
China’s Internet Censors Try a New Trick: Revealing Users’ Locations
The rapidly expanding practice, which authorities say helps combat disinformation from abroad, has fueled a whole new type of online battle.
By Joy Dong
Now they are trying a new trick: displaying social media users’ locations beneath posts.
Authorities say the location tags, which are displayed automatically, will help unearth overseas disinformation campaigns intended to destabilize China. In practice, they have offered new fuel for pitched online battles that increasingly link Chinese citizens’ locations with their national loyalty. Chinese people posting from overseas, and even from provinces deemed insufficiently patriotic, are now easily targeted by nationalist influencers, whose fans harass them or report their accounts.
The tags, based on a user’s Internet Protocol, or I.P., address that can reveal where a person is located, were first applied to posts that mentioned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a topic authorities said was being manipulated with foreign propaganda. Now they are being expanded to most social media content, further chilling speech on a Chinese internet dominated by censorship and isolated from the world. Continue reading