How Facebook And Google Provide Massive Funding To Journalism Around The World

Google and Facebook have committed over $500 million to various journalism programs around the world. There will be no discussion about what fake news is, but only that it disagrees with Technocracy and societal engineering. This gives these two companies almost total control in controlling public opinion and behavior. ⁃ TN Editor

In March, Google announced with much fanfare the launch of the Google News Initiative, a $300 million program aimed at “building a strong future for journalism,” as the company put it. That came on top of the previous Digital News Initiative, which was set up by Google in 2015 and included a $170 million innovation fund aimed at the European media industry.

Facebook, too, has been funneling money into journalism projects, including the News Integrity Initiative—a $14 million investment in a project run by City University of New York—and the Facebook Journalism Project, a wide-ranging venture the company says is designed to help media companies develop new storytelling tools and ways of promoting news literacy.

Taken together, Facebook and Google have now committed more than half a billion dollars to various journalistic programs and media partnerships over the past three years, not including the money spent internally on developing media-focused products like Facebook’s Instant Articles and Google’s competing AMP mobile project. The result: These mega-platforms are now two of the largest funders of journalism in the world.

The irony is hard to miss. The dismantling of the traditional advertising model—largely at the hands of the social networks, which have siphoned away the majority of industry ad revenue—has left many media companies and journalistic institutions in desperate need of a lifeline. Google and Facebook, meanwhile, are happy to oblige, flush with cash from their ongoing dominance of the digital ad market.

The result is a somewhat dysfunctional alliance. People in the media business (including some on the receiving end of the cash) see the tech donations as guilt money, something journalism deserves because Google and Facebook wrecked their business. The tech giants, meanwhile, are desperate for some good PR and maybe even a few friends in a journalistic community that—especially now—can seem openly antagonistic.

Given that tangled backstory, it’s no surprise the funding issue is contentious. Should media companies really be involved in rehabbing the images of two of the wealthiest companies on earth, especially when they are fundamentally competitors? Yet, given the financial state of journalism, wouldn’t it be irresponsible not to take the funds?

The reality is that even if the money achieves some good, and even if there are no strings attached (which both companies insist is the case), accepting the largesse of Facebook and Google inevitably pulls the media even further into their orbit. It may not have a direct effect on what someone writes about or how a topic is covered, but it will undoubtedly have a long-term effect on the media and journalism. Are the tradeoffs worth it?

Even some of the people who benefit  from the money say they are torn between the desire for badly needed funding that can be put towards a positive purpose, and the sinking feeling that they are being drawn deeper into a relationship with a tech company that has a huge amount of power, and may ultimately use it in ways that are antithetical to journalism. In other words, they worry about being pawns in a PR game.

A former Google staffer who worked on the company’s media programs says even he feels conflicted about the practice. While many of the funded projects are worthwhile, he says, the result is that “a bunch of well-meaning people with good intentions get the money, and slowly they get sucked into a corporate machine that doesn’t have their best interests at heart.”

University of Virginia media studies professor Siva Vaidhyanathan says both Facebook and Google may care about journalism and want it to be healthy, “but they want that to happen on their own terms, and they want that to happen within an ecosystem dominated by these two companies. The British Empire wanted trains in Kenya and India to run well, too. So their concerns are sincere, but the effect is more often than not a deeper immersion in and dependence on these platforms.”

Vaidhyanathan sees an inherent conflict in accepting money from Facebook or Google because “these are two companies that directly compete with major publications for advertising revenues. So you’re basically going into a partnership with a competitor—a competitor that has a significant competitive advantage in terms of price, in terms of scale, in terms of technological expertise. So is that a good business decision? Increasingly, journalistic institutions are feeding the beasts that are starving them.”

According to one estimate by a media research firm, Google and Facebook will account for close to 85 percent of the global digital ad market this year and will take most of the growth in that market—meaning other players will be forced to shrink. That includes many of the traditional publishers and media outlets who now work with them.

Read full story here…




Cornell University Course Examines ‘Derangement’ Of ‘Climate Denialism’

Prestigious institutions of higher education are full of Technocrats who have hijacked the system to promote their pseudo-science climate belief system. These Technocrats are a tiny minority but they have risen to positions of influence. ⁃ TN Editor

A new seminar at Cornell University is determined to shut down “climate denialism,” claiming that there is “mounting evidence” that “global warming is real.”

Deranged Authority: The Force of Culture in Climate Change, worth four academic credits, is set to be taught in the Fall 2018 semester by cultural anthropologist Jennifer Carlson.

“The point of such courses…is to replace science with belief.” Tweet This

The course description asserts that “climate denialism is on the rise,” suggesting the increase is related to the rise of “reactionary, rightwing [sic] politics in the United States, UK, and Germany.” The proposed solution to combat such denialism and assumed ignorance is “climate justice,” even though over 30,000 scientists reject global warming alarmism.

Richard Lindzen, MIT emeritus professor of meteorology and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, found the course “an insult to the intelligence of the students.”

He clarified to Campus Reform that many scientists do not argue against slight warming of the Earth after the Little Ice Age (the unusually cool period of the Earth around the 1700s A.D.), nor do those critical of anthropogenic climate change argue that humans have made no impact on the planet, merely that the effect has been small and largely beneficial.

“The point of such courses as are proposed for Cornell, is to replace science with belief,” Lindzen argued, adding that students are “encouraged to replace understanding with virtue signaling.”

Course readings will focus on the question of “authority” in the field of climate science, exploring “climate research, popular environmentalist texts, and industry campaigns aimed at obfuscating evidence of ecological collapse.”

Read full story here…




Eric Holder’s Old Law Firm To ‘Advise’ Facebook On Anti-Conservative Bias

The radical left is swarming Facebook to help protect its liberal bias and censorship of conservative thought. Facebook has achieved what left-wing politicians could not accomplish in over 40 years of attempts to stamp out conservative thought in the media. ⁃ TN Editor

Facebook has enlisted a team from law firm Covington and Burling to advise them on combating perceptions of bias against conservatives. One minor detail: Covington and Burling is the firm of Barack Obama’s left-wing former attorney general, Eric Holder.

According to Axios, the team will be led by former Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl. Kyl was a vocal critic of Holder during his time in the Senate, and was rated highly by conservative organizations. After Kyl retired from the Senate, he joined Covington & Burling, where Holder had previously been a high-profile partner.

The former attorney general is still a partner at Covington & Burling, and was recently retained by the state of California for their expected legal showdowns with the Trump Administration. Holder has publicly flirted with the idea of running for president in 2020, telling reporters earlier this year that he would make a decision by the end of 2018.

So, to sum up: Facebook, a California-based company, has enlisted the same firm that is providing legal advice to their state against the Trump administration, through none other than Eric Holder, to advise them on combating perceptions of bias against conservatives.

The Heritage Foundation will also be working with Facebook on the same issue.

According to Axios, the conservative think-tank will “will convene meetings on these issues with Facebook executives.” Klon Kitchen, a former adviser to Sen. Ben Sasse who now works as a tech policy expert at Heritage, has reportedly hosted an event with Facebook’s head of global policy management.

Facebook has recently been engaged in outreach to conservative organizations, but their focus has not been on censorship concerns, but instead on securing free-market allies against the threat of regulation.

One of those allies, Berin Szóka of TechFreedom, told a congressional hearing on social media censorship that regulating social media companies to protect free speech was contrary to conservative values. He did not explain how a market dominated by monopolies like Facebook and Google is still “free.”

Szóka, along with other free-market conservatives, had previously been invited to a meeting with Facebook representatives aimed at fending off the so-called “rush to regulate” the platform, which holds a dominant position in the social media market with over 2 billion users.

Read full story here…




Facebook Creates Special Ethics Team To Examine Bias In AI Software

AI programs inherit the biases of their creators. Thus, the censorship programs that Facebook has created already contain the seeds of technocrat thought and ethics. Are those same people capable of examining their own creations? ⁃ TN Editor

More than ever, Facebook is under pressure to prove that its algorithms are being deployed responsibly.

On Wednesday, at its F8 developer conference, the company revealed that it has formed a special team and developed discrete software to ensure that its artificial intelligence systems make decisions as ethically as possible, without biases.

Facebook, like other big tech companies with products used by large and diverse groups of people, is more deeply incorporating AI into its services. Facebook said this week it will start offering to translate messages that people receive via the Messenger app. Translation systems must first be trained on data, and the ethics push could help ensure that Facebook’s systems are taught to give fair translations.

 “We’ll look back and we’ll say, ‘It’s fantastic that we were able to be proactive in getting ahead of these questions and understand before we launch things what is fairness for any given product for a demographic group,'” Isabel Kloumann, a research scientist at Facebook, told CNBC. She declined to say how many people are on the team.

Facebook said these efforts are not the result of any changes that have taken place in the seven weeks since it was revealed that data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica misused personal data of the social network’s users ahead of the 2016 election. But it’s clear that public sentiment toward Facebook has turned dramatically negative of late, so much so that CEO Mark Zuckerberg had to sit through hours of congressional questioning last month.

Every announcement is now under a microscope.

Facebook stopped short of forming a board focused on AI ethics, as Axon (formerly Taser) did last week. But the moves align with a broader industry recognition that AI researchers have to work to make their systems inclusive. Alphabet’s DeepMind AI group formed an ethics and society team last year. Before that, Microsoft’s research organization established a Fairness Accountability Transparency and Ethics group.

The field of AI has had its share of embarrassments, like when Google Photos was spotted three years ago categorizing black people as gorillas.

Last year, Kloumann’s team developed a piece of software called Fairness Flow, which has since been integrated into Facebook’s widely used FBLearner Flow internal software for more easily training and running AI systems. The software analyzes the data, taking its format into consideration, and then produces a report summarizing it.

Kloumann said she’s been working on the subject of fairness since joining Facebook in 2016, just when people in the tech industry began talking about it more openly and as societal concerns emerged about the power of AI.

Read full story here…

 




AI-Created Fake News: Personalized, Optimized And Even Harder To Stop

Artificial Intelligence is being harnessed to create personalized propaganda, aka fake news, to drive you to decisions that you might not have otherwise made. It will be nearly impossible to tell the difference between real, modified real and outright fake stories. ⁃ TN Editor

Fake news may have already influenced politics in the US, but it’s going to get a lot worse, warns an AI consultant to the CIA.

Sean Gourley, founder and CEO of Primer, a company that uses software to mine data sources and automatically generate reports for the CIA and other clients, told a conference in San Francisco that the next generation of fake news would be far more sophisticated thanks to AI.

“The automation of the generation of fake news is going to make it very effective,” Gourley told the audience at EmTech Digital, organized by MIT Technology Review.

The warning should cause concern at Facebook. The social network has been embroiled in a scandal after failing to prevent fake news, some of it created by Russian operatives, from reaching millions of people in the months before the 2016 presidential election. More recently the company been hit by the revelation that it let Cambridge Analytica, a company tied to the Trump presidential campaign, mine users’ personal data.

In recent interviews, Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, suggested that the company would use AI to spot fake news. According to Gourley, AI could be used in the service of the opposite goal as well.

Gourley noted that the fake news seen to date has been relatively simple, consisting of crude, hand-crafted stories posted to social media at regular intervals. Technology such as Primer’s could easily be used to generate convincing fake stories automatically, he said, and that could mean fake reports tailored to an individual’s interests and sympathies and carefully tested before being released, to maximize their impact. “I can generate a million stories, see which ones get the most traction, double down on those,” Gourley said.

Gourley added that fake news has so far been fed into social-media platforms like Facebook essentially at random. A more sophisticated understanding of network dynamics, as well as the mechanisms used to judge the popularity of content, could amplify a post’s effect.

Read full story here…

 




Censorship In Mideast: Bahrain Vows To Hunt Social Media Dissidents

Bahrain has already succumbed to Technocracy-style dictatorship where intolerance for any anti-establishment is evident. This is the same pattern seen in China, Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, among others. Using social media data, it is now easy to identify and isolate ‘offenders.’ ⁃ TN Editor

Bahraini authorities on Sunday announced they would be taking “severe measures” to track down dissidents who use social media, as the Gulf monarchy tightens its grip on political opposition.

Social networking sites, notably Twitter, are a major platform for rights activists in the tiny kingdom, which according to Amnesty International has stripped hundreds of dissidents of citizenship in cases that have failed to meet the standards of a fair trial.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah al-Khalifa said the government was adopting “severe measures to deal with unprecedented chaos by disruptive social media accounts”, in a statement published by the official Bahrain News Agency.

The minister did not identify any account but said some had been flagged by the authorities for “spreading malicious rumours that strike at the heart of the social fabric and civil peace”.

“We are not far from tracking down those behind this, and taking legal action against them,” Khalifa said, adding that if necessary new legislation could be passed.

Authorities in Sunni-ruled Bahrain, a tiny Shiite-majority kingdom strategically located between rival Saudi Arabia and Iran, have jailed dozens of activists and disbanded both religious and secular opposition groups since pro-democracy protests broke out in 2011.

The government has accused Iranian authorities of backing the protest movement in a bid to overthrow it. Tehran denies involvement.

Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab, a leading figure in the protests, has been behind bars since 2015 for tweets critical of the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen.

Read full story here…




China Abolishes Censorship Agency, Places Media Directly Under Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping has undisputed total control over China’s Technocracy, and he is finishing the transformation by assuming direct and dictatorial power over the state’s media. Detractors will have their ‘social credit score’ reduced immediately by 200 points. ⁃ TN Editor

The move would tighten the Communist Party’s control over media—and not just Chinese media, judging from recent applications of “sharp power” to enforce China’s speech controls against Western citizens.

“The proposed administration directly under the State Council will be responsible for drafting policies and measures for radio and television management and their implementation, coordinating development of broadcasting undertakings and industries, promoting institutional reform in the sectors, importing radio and television programs, and facilitating the sectors to go global,” China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.

“It is also expected that China Central Television, China Radio International and China National Radio may be merged to form a new state broadcasting giant,” adds Variety.

The move is part of a steady consolidation of media regulatory agencies in China, flowing inexorably toward the proposed conclusion of a single cabinet-level agency controlling all forms of expression. As Variety notes, SAPPRFT has only been around since 2013; before that, separate regulatory agencies handled print publications versus radio, television, and film.

Deadline further observes that Xinhua’s announcement of the new regulatory proposal did not explicitly mention film, but SAPPRFT controlled access to the Chinese box office, so it is hard to imagine the State Council’s super-agency would not inherit those responsibilities as well.

China has thus far shown little concern about scaring away foreign movie companies with overbearing regulations. To the contrary, Deadline quotes Communist Party editorials worried that China “has stunning economic might” but has “not yet become a leading power in terms of ideology and information.”

The Hollywood Reporter puts the regulatory reshuffle in the context of President Xi Jinping promising to streamline the bureaucracy and reduce government agencies, while simultaneously assuming dictatorial powers and arranging to rule over China indefinitely:

The changes are just one part of an ambitious government revamp intended to eliminate bureaucracy while boosting the centrality of President Xi Jinping and party leadership to all aspects of policymaking.

Other changes include the merger of the country’s banking and insurance regulators and establishment of special agencies to oversee immigration and military veteran affairs. All told, the number of ministries under China’s cabinet will be reduced from 34 to 26. On Sunday, presidential term limits were removed from China’s constitution, opening the door for Xi to remain in office indefinitely.

China’s business elite are as hungry for censorship as Communist Party officials. Bloomberg Technology noted last week that China’s tech billionaires owe their fortunes to Xi’s protectionist policies, including white-knuckled speech controls and a massive Internet firewall that lockout foreign information technology competition.

Read full story here…




China Providing ‘Strings Attached’ Academic Financing To Force Censorship In America

The Chinese are very clever to weaponize capital in order to achieve devious ends. In this case, the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) funds selected academic institutions or projects in order to coerce them into self-censorship according to Chinese policies. Congress should block such funding. ⁃ TN Editor

The CIA has issued a classified report detailing China’s far-reaching foreign influence operations campaign in the United States, which imparts financial incentives as leverage to permeate American institutions.

In an unclassified page of the report obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, the CIA cautions against efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to stipulate funding to universities and policy institutes in exchange for academic censorship.

“The CCP provides ‘strings-attached’ funding to academic institutions and think tanks to deter research that casts it in a negative light,” the report says. “It has used this tactic to reward pro-China viewpoints and coerce Western academic publications and conferences to self-censor. The CCP often denies visas to academics who criticize the regime, encouraging many China scholars to preemptively self-censor so they can maintain access to the country on which their research depends.”

The CIA warning joins a growing call by U.S. lawmakers and intelligence officials to investigate China’s involvement on American college campuses. The agency declined to comment on the report.

FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Intelligence Committee last month the bureau is investigating dozens of Confucius Institutes, the Chinese-backed language and cultural centers hosted by more than 100 universities across the country. Despite their broad entrenchment in American academics over the past decade, little is known about the nature of the contracts between Beijing and the host universities—funding amounts and contractual terms are largely kept secret.

The U.S. intelligence community has warned of the institutes’ potential to be used as a spying tool. The concern is particularly pressing at the 13 universities that host both Confucius Institutes and top-secret Pentagon research, including Arizona State, Auburn, Purdue, Stanford, and the University of Washington.

Wray said “naiveté” in the academic sector has aggravated the risks, accusing the Chinese government of “exploiting the very open research and development environment that we have” on college campuses.

Last month, Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), who co-chairs the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, called on the five Florida educational institutions that host Confucius Institutes to end those partnerships amid reports that the Chinese government uses the programs to limit discussion on topics the government finds sensitive, such as the Tiananmen Square Massacre or the political status of Tibet.

“Beijing is becoming increasingly aggressive in its aim to exploit America’s academic freedom to instill in the minds of future leaders a pro-China viewpoint,” Rubio said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. “Confucius Institutes across the country and my home state of Florida have given China’s communist regime an avenue to covertly influence public opinion and teach half-truths designed to present Chinese history, government or official policy in the most favorable light.”

Rubio lauded the recent decision by the University of West Florida to cancel its contract with the Chinese-backed organization and encouraged other universities to reconsider their arrangements.

Managed by a division of the Chinese Ministry of Education known as Hanban, Confucius Institutes are a key piece of Beijing’s broader foreign propaganda campaign, which costs the Chinese government an estimated $10 billion annually.

As of 2016, China’s Propaganda Department was spending $6.8 billion per year to “build an international media apparatus that boosts China’s influence,” the CIA says. Chinese state-run media outlets operating in the United States employ individuals who spread communist propaganda, seldom register as foreign agents, and sometimes work on behalf of Beijing’s intelligence services, according to the report.

“The CCP bankrolls several English-media outlets in the U.S. that try to influence perceptions of China and world events,” the report says, citing media accounts. “The CCP also pays some American media firms to publish propaganda without obvious CCP attribution … and harasses or denies visas to journalists who publish stories critical of the regime.”

Read full story here…

The veritable institution Mississippi State University trains students in epidemiology, or ‘herd health’. It is funded by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. ⁃ TN Editor

International training: MSU veterinary faculty teach epidemiology in China

Two Mississippi State professors in the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine are reaching out to students around the world who want to learn about their specialized field of epidemiology.

Drs. David R. Smith and Robert W. Wills recently traveled to China to teach a two-week, two-credit-hour course funded by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

“There is a need for training Chinese veterinarians in epidemiology,” Smith said. Epidemiology is the branch of medicine dealing with the incidence and prevalence of disease in large populations and with detection of the sources and cause of epidemics of infectious disease. It’s also commonly referred to as studying “herd health.”

Both faculty members also travelled to the country last year under a cooperative arrangement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service and the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture.

“There are some diseases of animals that are important to the economy of farming in the U.S. or to public health. Influenza is a really important one,” said Smith, the Mikell and Mary Cheek Hall Davis Endowed Professor at MSU, who also explained that managing disease is an important issue around the world.

“There are some diseases that we’ve managed to control in the U.S. that are still problems in China and in other Asian countries, and the USDA believes that identifying and controlling particular diseases in these countries helps protect animal and public health in the U.S.,” Smith said. Interestingly, epidemiology is not taught as part of regular veterinary training in China, he added.

“There is wide recognition of the value for veterinary epidemiology training in China to improve the safety of food, improve the well-being of animals by preventing diseases, and protecting public health by reducing human exposure to zoonotic diseases,” Smith said.

Smith and Wills hope to see the new relationships formed with the Chinese continue to grow. Their students were graduates of veterinary schools in China who are now doing additional graduate work through the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

“The students were very excited to visit with us and to speak English. They were full of questions and very positive about interacting with Americans. They also were very attentive to the course,” Smith said.

In addition to the nearly 40 students officially enrolled in the class, more students not earning credit also sat in to learn from the MSU visiting faculty members.

Smith and Wills have a few long-term goals for the Chinese teaching project.

“We hope to go back again, and it sounds like the Chinese are interested in having us do that. We also would like to have some of the good students come here and spend some time doing graduate research at Mississippi State,” Smith said.

“Maybe they would return to China and become teachers. The idea is that we are training the trainers of epidemiology in the future,” he said.




In China, ‘Social Credit’ System Forces Citizens Into Submission To The State

When your personal data turns bad, whether real or imagined, China will basically ex-communicate you from the good life, and they have already done this to tens of millions of detractors. This is as effective as Tiananmen Square slaughter, but was implemented slowly so people never had a clue what was happening to them. Now, they are trapped, shunned, penalized and in some cases, destitute.  ⁃ TN Editor

The terrifying initiative, which has been rolled out through pilot scheme, bans low-rated people from buying plane tickets and sending their kids to private s

China’s  ‘social credit’ system blacklists “lazy” citizens who get into debt or spend their time playing video games in a creepy initiative that could have come straight out of Black Mirror.

Analysing users’ social media habits and online shopping purchases, the nightmarish system also grants real financial credit to citizens whose lifestyles are deemed to be more wholesome.

While the social credit scheme will become mandatory in China in 2020, it is currently being tested in pilot schemes which have been rolled out through private financial companies.

The most high profile of these is Sesame Credit which has been developed by Ant Financial and uses computer algorithms to score people from 350 to 950, reports The Guardian.

Likened to an episode of dystopian horror series Black Mirror, Sesame Credit rates people on factors including “interpersonal relationships” and consumer habits including buying video games.

It appears the authoritarian one-party state believes that someone who plays a PlayStation or an Xbox is an “idle person”, reports the BBC.

Those with a low-rating are “blacklisted” meaning they are unable to book a plane flight, prevented from renting or buying property and are unable to secure a loan or stay in a luxury hotel, reports MarketPlace.org.

One of the largest schemes currently operating is in Shanghai where jaywalking, traffic violations and skipping train fares can get you blacklisted.

But that’s not all. Citizens who do not visit their elderly parents or do not sort out their garbage into the appropriate recycling bins can also be penalised and effectively frozen out by the state.

Businessman Xie Wen spoke with MarketPlace.org after he was blacklisted following a financial dispute in which he never paid a debt to a client who sued his company.

He was then added to the Chinese Supreme Court’s list of “discredited” people.

Wen said: “It hurt my business. My clients didn’t trust me. I didn’t get much work.”

Read full story here…




China Asserts Internet Censorship Efforts Across The Globe

As a Technocracy pursuing a totally engineered world, China has massively censored its internal Internet. Now it is looking beyond its borders to censor the rest of the world. This is draconian and dangerous, but few in the West have correctly pegged China’s intentions or strategies. ⁃ TN Editor

Within its digital borders, China has long censored what its people read and say online. Now, it is increasingly going beyond its own online realms to police what people and companies are saying about it all over the world.

For years, China has exerted digital control with a system of internet filters known as the Great Firewall, which allows authorities to limit what people see online. To broaden its censorship efforts, Beijing is venturing outside the Great Firewall and paying more attention to what its citizens are saying on non-Chinese apps and services.

As part of that shift, Beijing has at times pressured foreign companies like Google and Facebook, which are both blocked in China, to take down certain content. At other times, it has bypassed foreign companies entirely and instead directly pushed users of global social media to encourage self-censorship.

This effort is accelerating as President Xi Jinping consolidates his power. The Chinese leadership is expected to officially abolish term limits at a meeting that begins next week, giving Mr. Xi outsize authority over the country’s direction.

Zhang Guanghong recently discovered the changing landscape for technology firsthand. Mr. Zhang, a Chinese human rights activist, decided last fall to share an article with a group of friends side and outside China that criticized China’s president. To do so, he used WhatsApp, an American app owned by Facebook that almost nobody uses in China.

In September, Mr. Zhang was detained in China; he is expected to soon be charged with insulting China’s government and the Communist Party. The evidence, according to his lawyer, included printouts of what Mr. Zhang shared and said in the WhatsApp group.

That information was likely obtained by hacking his phone or through a spy in his group chat, said China tech experts, without involving WhatsApp. Mr. Zhang’s case is one of the first-known examples of Chinese authorities using conversations from a non-Chinese chat app as evidence — and it sends a warning to those on the American platform, which is encrypted, that they could also be held accountable for what’s said there.

“China is increasingly throwing its weight around,” said Joshua Rosenzweig, an analyst at Amnesty International.

As Mr. Xi asserts himself and the primacy of Chinese geopolitical power, China has also become more comfortable projecting Mr. Xi’s vision of a tightly controlled internet. Beijing had long been content to block foreign internet companies and police the homegrown alternatives that sprouted up to take their place, but it is now directly pressuring individuals or requesting that companies cooperate with its online censorship efforts.

Read full story here…