Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Tianjin Becoming the World Capital of Internet Censorship

FT Nov 4: While Tianjin, the traditional financial center of northern China failed to attract any foreign financial institutions in the past few years, it had made progress in an unexpected direction and earned itself an uninspiring new role: The World Capital of Internet Censorship thanks to its low labor cost.

Despite technical advances, online censorship is still a labor intensive task. An examiner needs to make a decision to delete or keep a post in a matter of seconds, often a split of a second, considering the population and enthusiasm of Chinese netizens. A net cop's base salary is $650 in Beijing, $600 in southern city Shenzhen, and only $480 in Tianjin. Because of skyrocketing housing price in Beijing and Shenzhen, companies would have difficult to find qualified net cops even if they double or triple their current offering. Anything higher than that would be economically suicidal.

Weibo (Chinese knockoff of Twitter), Youku Tudou (Youtube knockoff) all had their censoring department moved from Beijing to Tianjin. More are joining the trend.

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