Thursday, May 11, 2006

Little sister is watching you

From the NYT :

"To her fellow students, Hu Yingying appears to be a typical undergraduate, plain of dress, quick with a smile and perhaps possessed with a little extra spring in her step, but otherwise decidedly ordinary.

And for Ms. Hu, a sophomore at Shanghai Normal University, coming across as ordinary is just fine, given the parallel life she leads. For several hours each week she repairs to a little-known on-campus office crammed with computers, where she logs in unsuspected by other students to help police her school's Internet forums...

Politics, even school politics, is banned on university bulletin boards like these. Ms. Hu says she and her fellow moderators try to steer what they consider negative conversations in a positive direction with well-placed comments of their own. Anything they deem offensive, she says, they report to the school's Web master for deletion.

During some heated anti-Japanese demonstrations last year, for example, moderators intervened to cool nationalist passions, encouraging students to mute criticisms of Japan.

Part traffic cop, part informer, part discussion moderator — and all without the knowledge of her fellow students — Ms. Hu is a small part of a huge national effort to sanitize the Internet...

Ms. Hu, one of 500 students at her university's newly bolstered, student-run Internet monitoring group, is a cog in a different kind of force, an ostensibly all-volunteer one that the Chinese government is mobilizing to help it manage the monumental task of censoring the Web...

Ms. Hu beams with pride over her contribution toward building a "harmonious society."

"We don't control things, but we really don't want bad or wrong things to appear on the Web sites," she said. "According to our social and educational systems, we should judge what is right and wrong. And as I'm a student cadre, I need to play a pioneer role among other students, to express my opinion, to make stronger my belief in Communism."


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