{{ 'Go back' | translate}}
Njus logo

World News | Njus USA

Even China’s state media can’t escape WeChat’s expanding image censorship

World News Quartz

Posts published on China's ubiquitous chat app by state media outlets are also getting scrubbed, highlighting the severity of the crackdown on free speech.
'China’s state media, just like everyone else in the country, is feeling the heavy hand of censors. According to a report published today (July 16) on real-time filtering on WeChat by Citizen Lab, a research group based at the University of Toronto, the chat app’s censorship scope is now so pervasive that it’s even ensnaring state media outlets—typically seen to be only reporting on news that’s already passed the censorship test—highlighting the increasing severity of the crackdown on free speech on China’s internet. Citizen Lab said that its findings show that Tencent, the tech giant that owns WeChat, now censors much more than just “negative information by the government,” with even “neutral references to government policy and ​ screenshots​ of official announcements accessible via government websites” deemed too sensitive. It said that Tencent has likely “over-censored images.” The researchers studied 220 images provided in a database compiled by WeChatscope, a censorship monitoring project run by the University of Hong Kong. The results showed that the most censored images on WeChat among those in the sample pertained to what researchers called “government-related issues” such as cartoons mocking China’s justice system, and a portrait of president Xi Jinping created by an Italian artist ahead of Xi’s visit to the country in March. The second-most censored category of images were those related to “events” such as the Cultural Revolution, the Tiananmen Square crackdown , Huawei, actress Fan Bingbing’s tax evasion scandal , and even the 2018 US midterm elections. Among the 220 censored posts, Citizen Lab found that five images had been posted by Global Times, known for its hawkish, nationalistic views. Those images, posted in January to the newspaper’s public WeChat account, were in relation to the Huawei saga and have been deleted from the platform. . The post in question criticized those of Chinese ethnicity in Canada who had been protesting against Huawei, whose CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver last year at the request of American authorities. In one image, two women were shown holding placards demanding the extradition of Meng to the US, while another showed a picture of Guo Baosheng, a Chinese political dissident whom the Global Times fingered as the organizer of the protests against Meng. In addition to the Huawei-linked post that was highlighted in the Citizen Lab report, other Global Times posts collected in WeChatscope’s database have also been deleted, Quartz found, including a February post on Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s political troubles, and one article about countries that were considering banning Chinese smartphone giant ZTE. In other instances, state news agency Xinhua’s content was also censored, including an article on an official investigation into a vaccine scandal that was censored in July last year . A picture post of a fireworks show during an international conference attended by the country’s leaders in June 2018 was also censored. It’s unclear in all these cases what triggered the censorship. Jeff Knockel, co-author of the report, said it’s hard to speculate how WeChat’s censorship mechanism really works. He noted, however, that the censorship only works on Chinese accounts registered with a Chinese phone number. “If one non-China account sends an image to another non-China account, then you don’t receive the kind of political and social censorship that we study in this report,” Knockel said.'

Epstein Had Cash, Diamonds, Foreign Passport in Locked Safe, Prosecutors Say

World News The Epoch Times (US)

NEW YORK—Prosecutors revealed in a bail hearing on July 15 that federal agents uncovered “piles of cash,” diamonds, and an expired foreign passport inside one of Jeffrey Epstein’s locked safes. The revelation came as U.S. District Judge Richard
'NEW YORK—Prosecutors revealed in a bail hearing on July 15 that federal agents uncovered “piles of cash,” diamonds, and an expired foreign passport inside one of Jeffrey Epstein’s locked safes. The revelation came as U.S. District Judge Richard Berman said he would wait until July 18 before making his decision on whether to grant Epstein bail or not, saying he needed more time. During back and forth arguments from the prosecution and the defense, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Rossmiller at one point told Berman about what agents had discovered. “Just this morning the government became aware of a safe that contained piles of cash, diamonds, a passport from a foreign country with a picture of the defendant under another name,” Rossmiller said. Miller also said that the prosecution’s evidence against Epstein is “getting stronger by the day.” Last week at a press conference, attorneys announced that the FBI was looking for more victims of Epstein to come forward. The expired passport, issued by a foreign country that was not named, listed Epstein’s residence as Saudi Arabia. Epstein owns and maintains “luxury properties and residences around the world,”  a bail memorandum by the Southern District of New York  said. These residences include locations in Manhattan, New York; Palm Beach, Florida; Stanley,  New Mexico ; and Paris. Epstein also has a private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Epstein, who pleaded not guilty last week, has requested to be placed under house arrest at his mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side with the addition of armed guards paid out of his pocket. Prosecutors argued throughout the two-hour hearing that Epstein is a flight risk, and poses a danger to the community if released on bail. Court documents  say Epstein sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls at different locations. The financier is charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. The charges carry with them a maximum sentence of 45 years. Two Accusers At the end of the hearing, two alleged victims of Epstein pleaded with Berman that Epstein remain behind bars until trial. One of the victims, Annie Farmer, made her case with a trembling voice. She said Epstein was “inappropriate” with her when she was 16 years old. When asked by the judge to talk about her alleged abuse, Farmer said she preferred “not to go into details.” Farmer argued that Epstein posed an “extraordinary risk of flight” and that he was dangerous. The other victim, Courtney Wild, told Berman she was sexually abused by Epstein when she was 14 years old in Palm Beach. “He’s a scary person,” Wild said, referring to Epstein, adding that he should not be allowed to walk freely in the streets. Epstein’s lawyers said that their client has maintained a clean record for around a decade after he was sentenced in 2008 to 13 months in prison. In that deal, Epstein pleaded guilty to lesser state charges of soliciting and procuring a person under age 18 for prostitution. He also had to register as a sex offender. The financier is currently being detained at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Martin Weinberg, one of Epstein’s lawyers, told the judge that he should be taken out of prison to better help his lawyers prepare their defense. Berman criticized their arguments, saying that, according to their logic, all defendants should be treated the same way as Epstein. “If that’s the standard, then what are we going to tell all those people who can’t make the $500 or $1,000 bail?” Berman asked.'