back to article It's time to kick China off social media, says tech governance expert

The time has come to remove Chinese voices from global social media, according to Samir Saran, president of Delhi-based think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a commissioner of The Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace, and a member of Microsoft's Digital Peace Now Initiative. Speaking at the Black Hat Asia …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "If we are banned there, we must ban them here"

    That seems like a perfectly reasonable attitude.

    1. Tim 11

      Re: "If we are banned there, we must ban them here"

      I think it's swings and roundabouts.

      There is definitely a viewpoint that says our more open and transparent society(*) is a better one to live in, and one of the challenges of living in that society is that we have to learn to cope with misinformation. By this kind of "tit for tat" response we would be lowering ourselves to playing the game by their rules.

      * feel free to flame me with examples of where our society isn't sufficiently open and transparent, but you have to accept it's a lot more open than China.

    2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: "If we are banned there, we must ban them here"

      That seems like a perfectly reasonable attitude.

      It does, but it's a race to the bottom, has us stooping to their level, legitimises the practice of blocking voices, surrenders the moral high ground, makes us no better than them.

      The better alternative is to accept that it's an asymmetric battle and address it some other way. Slap some sort of 'propaganda warning' on it, fact check it etc.

      The problem is of course, that what some label propaganda, often contains grains of inconvenient truth which are more conveniently addressed by cancelling the messenger.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: makes us no better than them

        Maybe not, but if it helps us live in peace, I'm for it.

        Having the moral high ground is all high and mighty, but when a thug is beating you into the ground, you need to fight back.

        1. Robert Helpmann??

          Re: makes us no better than them

          There are other ways to defend yourself. It's fine to allow Chinese or any other voices on Western social media as long as we know who is doing the talking. This is not to say there is no argument to be made for anonymous sites, but it seems a bit odd to me that what we call "social" media involves a lot of socialization with folks we don't know and have no way of finding out who they are.


    3. Potemkine! Silver badge

      Re: "If we are banned there, we must ban them here"

      I would tend to agree, but it reminds me Saint Just's sentence: "no freedom for the enemies of freedom". Looking at what happened for those deemed "enemies of freedom" by the Committee of Public Safety, we should perhaps be more careful before applying such a radical strategy and look to the potential side effects.

  2. Kabukiwookie

    Pot meet kettle

    commissioner of The Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace, and a member of Microsoft's Digital Peace Now Initiative.

    This guy is a MS shill... the same MS that has been working with the NSA since 2007.

    Not saying that China is not using tech this way, but this guy is only jealous that China already is where people like him want the western internet to go as well...

  3. sabroni Silver badge

    re: Digital societies need to be protected.

    I don't know how we do this. I've asked on facebook, tweeted about it, put up an insta story, no-one seems to be able to help me......

    How can I stop these companies having such a massive impact on my life????

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: re: Digital societies need to be protected.

      You know you could try turning of your computer, tablet, and phone. And maybe the TV as well. Probably the fridge too if you have one of those internet fridges.

      I hear there are certain places where these companies have ZERO effect on the daily lives of their residents. You know like Cultist Communes, Amish Communities, Buddhist Monk Mountain Retreats, Indigenous Villages in the middle of the Amazon, I'm sure you can find something to fit...

      1. Pinero50

        Re: re: Digital societies need to be protected.

        I'm guessing the irony was lost on you then? :)

        1. lglethal Silver badge

          Re: re: Digital societies need to be protected.

          I'm guessing the troll icon was lost on you then? :)

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: re: Digital societies need to be protected.

      Facebook stopped all companies from having an effect on my life ... when Facebook opened to the public I tried to sign up for an account and was told my name was fake. They said that if I ever tried to create an account on Facebook then I would be prosecuted ... and then when I started reading the small print on several other social media companies I saw paragraphs in their terms and conditions pages that said you can't apply for an account if you have been banned by any other social media company so I have no social media accounts. Initially I was pissed off, but now ...

      I am very happy and wish to express my contentment.

      1. Clarecats

        Re: re: Digital societies need to be protected.

        Thanks for telling your story, Mr Zuckerberg.

  4. tel2016

    Western social media is blocked in China, unless a VPN is used to get around the Great Chinese Firewall (use of a VPN is illegal under Chinese law). So where are all these Chinese social media accounts coming from? Could the vast majority be coming from the CCP itself by any chance?

    1. Sitaram Chamarty

      > by any chance?

      by *every* chance!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      since their 'citizens' are not allowed, yes, that is the only group left over. for fun look up Shanghai/disney and who has content control.

    3. Clarecats

      Wherever the bots come from, they are well established

      Many of these accounts are just bots. China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh make plenty, as no doubt do other nations.

      Instagram bots sell for about 0.78cent I am informed. It's called SMM panel reselling. These bots are found on many platforms. The older the bot, the more validity it has, because panels regularly conduct searches and erase bots, don't they. So if it survived a few years its vote, comment, like etc. looks more real.

      USA Today cleaned up its Twitter followers a few years ago and found that 1 million of the 8 million were bots.

      Facebook cleaned 1.3 billion bots and fake accounts during Q1 of 2021, down from 1.7 billion in Q1 of 2020. 1.7 billion were removed /cleaned up during Q4 of 2021.

      Not only the panel activity, but the activity of search engines endlessly visiting the pages, wastes electricity and datacentre space.

      There are also zombie accounts, real people's accounts pwned, some exacerbated by the fact that what would be visible on a desktop is not visible on a phone app. The real user keeps using it unknowing that something has been added.

      Some panels have taken steps to require proof of identity on opening an account.

    4. martinusher Silver badge

      Lots of things are "not allowed" in China. This doesn't stop the Chinese from doing them. Things like the Great Firewall are no different from social media like Facebook -- most people use it because its convenient and works for them even though ultimately it works against their interests.

  5. VoiceOfTruth

    And allow Indian voices?

    India has always had an inferiority complex when it comes to China. If you can't beat them, at least cut them off.

  6. Howard Sway Silver badge

    uses social media to deliberately interfere in the affairs of other nations

    As opposed to, say, Rupert Murdoch who uses broadcast and print media to interfere in the affairs of other nations?

    By this yardstick, you'd have to ban foreign ownership of all media. Far better to allow a free exchange of ideas than to let someone dictate who can say things and what they're allowed to say. At least that way there's a chance that decency will win sometimes. And if it doesn't then at least there's the chance of subsequent recovery from the disaster that the authoritarian disinformation merchants always create, once people have learnt the hard way not to get swept along by the hate.

    1. VoiceOfTruth

      Re: uses social media to deliberately interfere in the affairs of other nations

      -> By this yardstick, you'd have to ban foreign ownership of all media

      That is not a bad idea. In the UK most media is owned by people who live outside the UK. Tax avoiders, internationalists who are happy to take the money but not happy about paying tax.

    2. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: uses social media to deliberately interfere in the affairs of other nations

      And while we're at it, ban the ownership of more than 5 percent of the media market across all formats, and no more than one TV or radio station in any market. The way it is now, with just a couple of companies owning them all, there is no such thing as an independent media. That needs to end.

  7. iron Silver badge

    hashtags that challenge national consensus

    OMG! OMG! Not hashtags that challenge national consensus!

    Whatever will we do to counter their fiendish hashtag strategy!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    India 'hates' China.

    China 'hates' India.

    Both drink tea.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Y'know I was just chewing the fat down the local with one of our US tech policy decision-makers and he was asking me how I felt about corporate use of my data, etc.

    Lovely chap - very accessible.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      For a price, my dear boy! Everyone is accessible for a price.

      What is sad is how low it is in some cases.

  10. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Can we?

    Aside from the question of whether it is a good idea or not, is it actually possible?

    If there is a way of blocking voices from particular geographical regions then I'm sure many people would be interested . For example, they could restrict the unwanted communications to their own country (where they can sue them if they cross the line separating "noise" from "abuse"). While that might be counter-productive for companies that trade internationally, or individuals with foreign friends and relatives, there are an awful lot of businesses and people whose communications are entirely intra-national. With a little bit of allow-listing, nearly everyone would fit into this category.

    In practice, however, I suspect that the people we don't want to hear from are *exactly* the ones who would find it fairly easy to circumvent any attempted ban.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    Ban hashtags. From anywhere. On anything.


  12. Yes Me Silver badge

    Fixed it for ya

    It's time to kick China off social media

    It's time to kick social media off the Internet.

    1. VerySlowData

      Re: Fixed it for ya

      Great idea; have IANA/IETF/whoever fence off an IP6 netblock and move all social media monoliths there. Publish the allocation so that the rest of us can block it and where possible not route it...

      Then the internet can be returned to some semblance of sanity..

  13. Omnipresent Bronze badge

    great idea. ban china from the internet.

    only..... what's to stop china from making a burner email addy?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well Said

    While we are at it, raise import duties for products from China every year.

    Stop exporting high tech to China.

    Stop letting chinese spy students learn our high technology at our universities.

    Move the factories back to NATO countries and maybe some of them to India, China and Africa.

    China is one big Secret Service, hell-bent on chinese advantage and making everybody else economic and then political vasalls.

    Stop being sheeples, understand that the Chicoms only work for their own advantage. Stop giving them the other cheek !

    Also, realize how COMINTERN is messing with our minds. European peoples have discovered+created almost all the science and technology on earth. But we are supposed to excuse our very existence, if you believe the Marxist and Mohammedist Uboats we have amongst us.

    No, there is nothing to excuse and they can all go back to the Abacus, if they please !

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mining Thorium, Uranium, Coal At Home

    Denouncing nuclear and coal power is another Maoist/Marxist br4inf4ck, designed to weaken everybody outside the Moscow and Beijing sphere. Their "Green" uboats are telling us we need to shut it down and replace these marvellous power sources by windmills and solar cells.

    Meanwhile, Russia and China expand the use of coal and nuclear. China now burns 25% of world coal production and in tandem (little wonder) they have grown into the premier factory nation. Mao can't believe his luck with white weaklings.

    NATO has lost high tech competence in Fast Breeder Reactors to Russia.

    Time to stop this nonsense, face down the NATO Maoists-Marxists and start mining in Europe, North America, Australia, Japan.

    Honest european men will mine Uranium and Thorium while their wifes raise the children at home.

    End the communist nonsense and grow some balls !

  16. arctic_haze

    I would start with Russia

    If the Russian trolls support something, it's gonna be a disaster for at least one Western country.

  17. R.O.

    Yes, BAN China Social Media attacks

    China's interference in world affairs using the internet and as noted here within social media is notorious and rampant.

    Yes! Cut them off. It's the only smart and practical thing to do. This is no time to go wishy washy high road philosophical. China chooses to wage cyber war on the world So be it. 99.9% of internet users do not NEED internet contact with China for their every day computing. Even if there are some communications needed for legitimate retail sales, those could be extremely restricted and prescribed.

    Appeasing Cyber Tyrants never works. China has chosen to be a Cyber Tyrant, by official policy.

  18. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Elsewhere in the world, he said, citizens can at least lobby elected representatives for change to tech-related regulations

    There are plenty of countries where this is not the case, not in China only.

    Why doesn't this gentleman mention Russia? Myanmar? Saudi Arabia? Turkey? And many others?

    So if this applies to China, this should also apply to all dictatorships everywhere.

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