#Censorship

China's Censorship Laws Got Harsher As The Reward For Reporting Others Increased

Censorship in China just keeps getting harsher.

China has announced that it will be increasing a reward given to anyone who can report “illegal” works.

The Chinese government made this announcement last month as the country continues its effort to censor content online, in television, and now in person as well.

An reward will go out to any Chinese citizen who can report “illegal” publications that distribute “obscene” material. The amount of the reward can now go upwards to 600,000 yuan or $86,412.

Creating an incentive in order to increase reports can easily create chaos and exploitation of the law. Look for instance at what happened recently in America with the Philadelphia-born gay man who was almost deported, because of a law where sheriffs get compensated for extending the detention of suspected illegal immigrants.

Another example would be the Chinese author who was sentenced to 10 years in prison last month. The author, who’s referred to as Tianyi, was selling 7,000 pornographic books involving the love affair of a teacher and his male student.

Someone reported Tianyi and she was arrested by the police earlier this year. Now, she has been given the heavy sentence of 10 years, which many complained is a longer sentence than even rapists get.

It seems a wave of censorship is sweeping the globe, but China is leagues ahead of anybody else.

Facebook's New Community Standards Ban Users From Expressing Their Sexual Preferences

First Tumblr and now Facebook!

Censorship has been coming down hard this week, though this latest story has been months in the making.

On October 15, Facebook updated its community standards to specify what counts as “sexual solicitation.” PC Mag reports that the social media platform sees any mention of sexual roles and expression of sexual preference as a warning sign for sexual solicitation.

These “red flags” of “abusive behavior” will not only be monitored on Facebook posts but also links and images shared as well. This also goes for other social media apps owned by Facebook like Facebook Messenger and Instagram.

Again, this change went into effect in October, and is only now being noticed. Why, you might ask? Because of Tumblr’s recent announcement that it will be banning all adult content on December 17th. Many are comparing the two social media platforms and noting their specific effect on queer culture.

Many LGBTQ users use Facebook to engage and discuss queer issues and perspectives on life. There are a multitude of Facebook groups and chats where users think they have the privilege to express themselves, their sexualities, and their ways of life.

But now, it appears that Facebook is openly opposing such discussions.

In addition, Facebook users mysteriously saw a crackdown on LGBTQ advertisements on the social media platform in October. Users complained after many LGBTQ themed ads were blocked by the company. Facebook then told the Washington Post that this surge of censorship was an error in the system.

As the Washington Post wrote:

"The rejections, the majority of which Facebook told The Post were in error, underscore the company’s challenges in regulating the massive amount of information flowing through its service, an issue that burst into the fore after the disclosure that Russian-state actors used advertisements on Facebook to sow discord during the 2016 U.S. election. But they also touch on a deeper tension as the company seeks to better regulate political uses of its platform."

 

On the outside, it’s hard to tell how these community standards are effecting LGBTQ groups and organizations. But, we can provide a possible example.

One Instinct reader messaged us to express how FB had flagged two attempts at sharing one of our articles. Keep in mind, this wasn’t a “flesh piece” sharing an Instagram model or naughty music video. Instead, it was an article about how Taiwan’s lawmakers are trying to settle for gay unions instead of legalizing gay marriage.

While the post was approved after the Instincter requested a second review, this is a sign that Facebook’s algorithm is notched against LGBTQ content. Of course, this isn’t whole and total proof, but we LGBTQ social media users should be on our guard.

It seems the American internet is currently on a wave of censorship, and LGBTQ users are taking the hardest hit.

China Sentences Author To 10 Years In Prison For Selling A Homoerotic Novel

Unfortunately, one author’s attempt at realistically depicting gay romance and sex has resulted in a ticket to jail.

Chinese media sources are buzzing with the news that a female novelist under the pen name Tianyi has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Tianyi gained the attention of Chinese authorities after her homoerotic novel Gongzhan, which depicts the sexual relationship between a teacher and his student, went viral last year, according to IOL and AFP.

In the eyes of the Chinese government, Tianyi has surmounted 150,000 yuan (approximately 21,600 USD) through “illegal profits” after selling 7,000 pornographic books.

According to DailyMail, Tianyi and three others were the apprehended by the authorities sometime between last November and May. She was only just recently sentenced in the eastern Anhui province on October 31.

At the current moment, Tianyi is attempting to repeal the court decision. While that's happening, many on Weibo (China’s Twitter-like website) have pointed out how unnecessarily harsh Tianyi’s punishment is.

While Chinese law says homoerotic novels that make 50,000 yuan ($7,200) or more are subject to punishment, the sentencing of 10 years in prison is an even harsher punishment than some rapists get.

Unfortunately though, China has increased its crackdown on homosexual content. This is despite the fact that homosexuality is perfectly legal in the country.

Multiple sources of gay-themed entertainment has been censored, banned, or watered down such as the popular gay webs series Addicted, the video game franchise The Sims, and China’s first openly distributed film Looking for Rohmer, and more.

In addition, Chinese citizens have fought against suppression on sites like Weibo, which are trying to stick to the government’s strict censorship laws.

And just last week, the government increased the amount of a cash award for Chinese citizens who report “illegal” publications that distribute “obscene” material. Now, the reward can go upward to 600,000 yuan ($86,412).

Plus, the Cyberspace Administration of China recently celebrated the “cleaning up” of 9,800 accounts on Chinese social media that were spreading “politically harmful” information and rumors.

But gain, homosexuality is legal in China and the government continues to repeat its “live and let live” policy in terms of LGBTQ people. That is, as long as they don’t congregate too openly both online and off it.

Will China’s LGBTQ citizens ever see freedom?

h/t: IOL, AFP, DailyMail

Malaysia's Government Edited Out Freddie Mercury's Bisexuality In "Bohemian Rhapsody"

Malaysia does it again.

While eyes are turning towards the continent of Asia as it slowly develops LGBTQ rights, the country of Malaysia is staying vigilant against them.

Between banning tourists looking to participate in gay events, politicians like the Deputy Prime Minister expressing homophobic rhetoric, and the banning of gay content in films like Beauty & The Beast, the country continues to express anti-gay views. This is in spite of subtle rises of LGBTQ representation like gay pop star Alextbh.

Now, the country has enacted yet another effort to quiet down LGBTQ representation and this time in the form of the film Bohemian Rhapsody.

According to Malay Mail, 24 minutes have been cut from the Queen biopic due to references to lead singer Freddie Mercury’s (played by Rami Malek) sexuality. This includes Mercury telling his fiancée Mary Austin that he’s bisexual and the drag scene for the music video “I Want to Break Free.”

In addition, the film has been given a mature 18 rating to prevent younger viewers from watching the movie.

This again is reminiscent of what happened with Beauty & The Beast, which tried to arrive in Malaysia last year. The country’s Censorship Bureau tried to have the “gay moment” concerning semi-villainous character LeFou (played by Josh Gad) edited out for Malaysian viewing. That said, Disney refused and thus passed up on showing the film in the country.

Now, Malaysian citizens on social media are complaining to their government about this second instance of censorship.

Facebook Removes Page For Queer Arts Organization 'Naked Boys Reading'

I’m almost completely opposed to censorship, except when it comes to outright lies or dangerous hate speech. Otherwise, I’m far more in favor of simply labeling and classifying. I’m definitely opposed to the alleged censorship of a Facebook group dedicated to naked men reading books.

According to Pink News, the Facebook page of "international literary salon" Naked Boys Reading (NBR), a live show where performers read aloud from books other texts completely nude, has been completely deleted.

Justin Hunt, founder of NBR, says that on Tuesday he was logging in and discovered the page was erased.

Speaking to Pink News, Hunt said that the page was used primarily as a space to promote upcoming events,” while also featuring non-explicit photos from their events. He says the removal of it has left him “enraged for the way in which a closed platform continues to police and censor queer aspects of our culture.”

“I see this as part of a queer erasure by Facebook over the past year if not two. The queer erasure arises through at least the policing of sex positive and queer signifiers and removal of queer as a possible event tag.”

“Facebook is a business tool and we all want to use it in that way; but we want diversity in how these tools can be employed.”

Since news of the page’s deletion broke, other queer arts, news and entertainment organizations have come forward with similar experiences.

For more on this story, head over to Pink News.

For more on NBR:

Instagram

Naked Boys Reading official website

What do you make of this? Feel free to let us know in the comments.

Holy Hypocrisy and Cowardice, Batman! DC Comics Censors Bruce's Lil' Wayne.

Holy disappointment, Batman! As we previously reported, DC Comics’ Black Label made serious waves earlier this week by publishing a comic with full-frontal Bruce Wayne nudity.

The move was received with unanimous praise. Female characters have been over-sexualized in comics since forever, and seeing Bruce’s lil’ Wayne was harmless at worst, progressive and hot at best.

But now, DC has backtracked. According to The Hollywood Reporter,”a source close to the project” says according to the studio, “the nudity did not add to the story and would be removed in future printings.”

Sure, but the decades and decades’ worth of barely-there female costumes and booty shots were crucial to your exquisite storytelling. Please.

Anyway, now all 115,000 printed copies of the first Batman: Damned are hardcore collectors items; they’ve vanished from store shelves around the world.

Big Bang Comics in Dublin, Ireland announced a one-copy-per-customer limit because of “unprecedented demand.”

Many on social media are expressing themselves, including gays who, for one day at least, suddenly were interested in comic books:

“Just called my local comic shop to reserve a copy of the book with BATMAN’S PENIS and he muttered under his breath ‘this is ridiculous’ and I am so glad I get to annoy a straight person AND see Bruce Wayne’s peener in the same day.”

All future printings of this comic will be censored. The digital versions were already censored.

This whole thing wreaks of a publicity stunt. I had certainly never heard of DC’s Black Label comics until a couple days ago—had you?

So I guess this means those of us who never read comics to begin with can go back to not reading comics? As we were, then.

h/t: The Hollywood Reporter, The Guardian


Note: This is the opinion of one Instinct Contributor and does not reflect the views of Instinct Magazine itself or the other contributing writers.

Target Under Fire For Censoring LGBTQ Words In Book Descriptions

Apparently, Target doesn’t like it when descriptions about books contain LGBTQ-related words.

According to The Columbian, department store retailer Target has received complaints for blurring and bleeping out words related to LGBTQ themes.

It seems that several books, such as “Trans: A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variability,” by Jack Halberstam, and "Double Cross: The True Story of D-Day Spies” by Ben Macintyre, have had their descriptions censored on Target’s website.

Not only were LGBTQ-related words like transgender or queer censored in Target’s edits, but so too were other words like “Nazis,” “stripper,” or “bondage.” This includes some texts that use the words historically.

 

After news of the censorship spread, Target spokeswoman Jenna Reck stated that the issue was unintentional.

“Like most online retailers,” Reck said in a statement, “Target doesn’t want profanity and other select words to appear on our website in an effort to ensure a positive shopping experience.”

She then added that the removal of words similar to those shared above “was an oversight on our part and they should be included. We’re working to update our site with the descriptions that were provided to Target by the book publishers.”

Since then, some words have been reinstated in a couple descriptions such as in “Lana and Lilly Wachowski: Sensing Transgender” by Cael Keegan, which explores the works of the transgender filmmakers who created The Matrix and Sense8 series.

However, some books, like “No Property in Man: Slavery and Antislavery at the Nation’s Founding,” by Sean Wilentz, have remained censored.

h/t: The Colombian

YouTube Algorithm Out Of Control: Site Bans Gay Fetish Account Recon

YouTube’s censorship algorithm strikes again! The latest victim? A gay fetish channel.

The fetish-focused dating app and website Recon received word on July 25th that it’s informational/educational YouTube account had been disabled, according to them.

Company brand director Sandy Pianim then reached out to a few select friends to share the news before he later went public. That then led friend and fellow YouTube creator Amp Somers to make a Twitter thread about the incident.

“I tweeted because I’m tired of people being deleted and people being quiet about it all,” Somers told them.

Keep in mind, the entirety of the account was disabled. Meanwhile, several other fetish channels, where you can watch videos of women in latex, were left unaffected. Clearly, this is not an issue of censoring fetishism and an issue of censoring LGBTQ fetishism.

Even worse, this isn’t the first time that the channel has been banned by YouTube.

According to Buzzfeed, the account was banned back in 2016. YouTube’s excuse at the time was the same as this time. “It’s a hitch in the algorithm.”

“With over 400 hours of video uploaded every minute, we rely on our community and machine learning technology to flag content that may violate our Community Guidelines for human review,” a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement. “With the volume of videos on our platform, sometimes we make mistakes and when this is brought to our attention we reinstate the videos or channels. We give uploaders the ability to appeal these decisions and we will re-review the content.”

It seems that these problems with LGBTQ content and the censorship algorithm have been happening a lot lately. In fact, there have been constant problems for the past two years or so.

For instance, 2017 saw several YouTube creators complaining about their LGBTQ-themed content being pushed behind a “restricted mode” wall. These were not just videos about overt sexuality, but everyday videos about bullying, weddings, and life as an LGBTQ person too.

Then earlier this year, South African singer and lead actor of the film The Wound/The Inxeba shared that the music video for his single “Clairvoyant” had been censored by the website.

These constant aggressions against LGBTQ people have left creators feeling resentful against the video sharing platform, and it has yet to correct these “kinks” in the program.

Unfortunately, the disabling of this LGBTQ fetish account, which again is not the only fetish account on the site, proves that YouTube has a problem with LGBTQ people (whether they admit it or not).

Back in 2016, the channel’s site was later reinstated after Buzzfeed made headlines about the incident. Hopefully, us raising a stink and getting in YouTube’s face about it will get their attention.

That said, will something like this happen again with its faulty algorithm? Most assuredly. And it seems to YouTube, that’s just another day on the job.

h/t: them., Buzzfeed

South African Singer Nakhane "Livid" After His Music Video Was Censored On Youtube

Youtube’s done it again with censoring gay content.

South African singer-songwriter Nakhane (who alo starred in the film The Wound) is criticizing the video sharing platform for putting up an age-restriction on the music video for his song “Clairvoyant.”

In the video, Nakhane is seen expressing a relationship with another man. The two argue, cuddle, laugh, share intimate touches, and kiss. That said, no explicit depictions of sex are included.

To be fair, the music video does contain partial nudity, which could have set off the warning. But there are plenty of other "sexually suggestive content" that don't get put behind an age-restriction. 

When he noticed the censorship, Nakhane was deeply offended and assumed it was because of the gay content. He then shared that frustration online.

Some, like actress and TV presenter Sade Giliberti, agreed. Giliberti stated in response to Nakhane’s tweet:

“The model is messed up. 3 of my videos have been flagged due to the ‘lesbian’ content. It’s trolls flagging & getting them either demonetised or restricted. YouTube need to up their game in how they just allow this without actually viewing content themselves.”

Do you think Nakhane’s music video should have been censored? You can watch the video down below and then let us know what you think.

h/t: GayTimes

Popular Chinese Social Media App Weibo Just Banned Gay Content

The Chinese government is at it again with banning gay content over the internet.

This time, the focus is on social media website/app Sina Weibo or Weibo for short, which is essentially the Twitter of China (as Twitter is also banned in the country) and has 392 million active monthly users.

In a similar act to how Craigslist is deleting Personal ads to protect itself from a new Congress bill, Weibo is deleting gay content in order to stay in the clear with Chinese law.

Through Weibo’s official account, the Community Manager shared the news that starting April 13, the site would “fulfill the corporate responsibility” and work under the Chinese Internet Security Laws. This means that gay content will now be banned on the site along with acts of violence, pornographic content, depictions of underage drinking/drug use, and more.

In order to make this happen, the company behind the social media service will closely monitor all content uploaded onto the service for the next three months. The announcement also shared that 56,243 violations were “cleared” during the time that the notice was made.

As you might expect, there was a strong opposition to this announcement. Many complained that the rules were too harsh and that Weibo accounts were being blocked and not just the content.

This is also a great problem for online content creators like comic artists, merch sellers, and filmmakers who largely market their gay content through social media like Weibo.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that China has banned/censored gay content. While homosexuality is legal and the Chinese government supposedly has a live and let live policy towards LGBTQ people, it would seem that’s only the case if they do it privately in their own corners of the country. Anything else, and LGBTQ people will be shut down with a forceful hand.

h/t: Beta News