YouTube Is Deleting Comments Against China’s Communist Party With Two Key-Word Phrases

YouTube deletes comments containing certain Chinese-language phrases related to criticism of the ruling Communist Party (CCP) of the country automatically. 

Comments left in videos or live streams containing the words “共匪” (“communist bandit”) or “五毛” (“50-cent party”) are automatically deleted in about 15 seconds, although their English and Romanized Pinyin equivalents are not.

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The term “共匪” is an insult dating back to the nationalist government of China, while “五毛” (or “wu mao”) is a derogatory slang term for internet users paid to direct online discussion away from CCP criticism. The name comes from claims that they pay 50 Chinese cents per post to such commentators. 

It is not clear why these phrases are being deleted, but it seems they have been added to the comment filters that are meant to remove spam or offensive text automatically. This is suggested by the fact that the comments are quickly removed (human moderation takes longer) and removed even if the banned phrases are used positively (e.g., “They 五毛 do a fantastic job”).

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The more puzzling thing is that YouTube is currently being blocked in China, giving its parent company, Google, even less reason to censor critical CCP comments or apply moderation systems in accordance with Chinese censorship laws. The Verge asked Google for comment and will update this story as we hear more.

Google has been frequently criticized by censoring content for accommodating CCP ‘s wishes. Most notably, it created a prototype search engine known as Project Dragonfly which complied with censorship of the Chinese state. The project, which has never been deployed, is part of the long-running struggles the company faces to enter the Chinese market.