Chinese version of NSA already employing 2 million people to watch everything on the internet
China has the world's largest online population.
China has an estimated 500 million people online, nearly double the number of Americans online, yet still less than half of its total population. To keep watch over those people, there are some 2 million employed to spy on them.
Both the government and private industries employ workers to do the job.
Known collectively as the "web police" they seek out any objectionable content and root out anyone who would challenge the ruling communist party.
In China, Facebook and Twitter are banned and people are permitted to use Chinese clones of both services which can be monitored by the authorities. China banned the more popular American-based social networks following the Arab Spring risings in 2010. Social networks were instrumental in those uprisings.
According to reports gathered from within China, hundreds of people have been detained for the content of their posts, or what authorities call spreading "rumors" online. High-profile bloggers and personalities have been warned to watch what they post online and to only post positive comments about the government online.
Media users currently face a three-year jail sentence if their posts go viral and are seen by more than 5,000 users or are forwarded more than 500 times.
China also has the world's largest online community, nearly double that in the United States.
Other countries, such as Iran, strictly control what people can view online and when. In Iran, Facebook and Twitter are blocked. In North Korea, people do not even have computers, or electricity to run them.
More "liberal" countries like Saudi Arabia allow the use of social networks, but still hold people responsible for what they post. People thought to be organizing protests or other civil disruptions on these sites can be arrested.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. agencies like the NSA simply aggregate information from social networks, building profiles on people of interest. Private sites such as Facebook actually earn profits from profiling users. The more detailed your profile, the more profitable your clicks.
For now, in the United States, most of the data is used to catch terrorists and to market goods to individuals. Most policing of the sites is automatic, provided by peers within the community who flag questionable content and a few site moderators who shut down the worst offenders.
However, nothing compares to the Chinese effort which is by all measures a major industry. With two million workers, China's web police may even be one of the world's largest collective employers. Mass quantities of human labor are one of the things China does best and to watch 500 million people on the internet, about 2 million police should do the trick.
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