China employs 2 million web monitors

That’s right: 2 million people who sit around, we presume, to look at what is going on the web so that the Chinese government can control it. They don’t get to delete stuff, apparently, which is great because, that’s a lot of deleters out there. No word on what the Chinese stand is on cute pictures of cats.

The Beijing News, via the BBC, says that China’s hundreds of million of web users are increasingly using microblogs to criticize the state or rage against the machine. The Beijing News is state media, by the way.

The monitors are “strictly to gather and analyse public opinions on microblog sites and compile reports for decision-makers.” 

One monitor, a Tang Xiaotao, sits in front of a computer every day, fires up his browser and apps, and trawls the web based on keywords that are provided to him. Tang has sophisticated software tools to help him get the job done.

According to the BBC report:

It is believed that the two million internet monitors are part of a huge army which the government relies on to control the internet.

The government is also to organise training classes for them for the first time from 14 to 18 October, the paper says.

But it is not clear whether the training will be for existing monitors or for new recruits.

The training will have eight modules, and teach participants how to analyse and judge online postings and deal with crisis situations, it says.

The most popular microblogging site Sina Weibo, launched in 2010, now has more than 500 million registered users with 100 million messages posted daily.

Topics cover a wide range – from personal hobbies, health to celebrity gossip and food safety but they talso include politically sensitive issues like official corruption.

Postings deemed to be politically incorrect are routinely deleted.

It’s mind boggling. Makes the NSA look lazy.