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Censorship pays: China’s state newspaper extends lucrative online business scrub

BEIJING (Reuters) – People.cn, the online unit of China’s influential People’s Daily, is boosting the numbers of the human internet censorship supported by artificial intelligence to help companies vet content on apps and ads, building on the unprecedented Communist y origins.

A man using a smartphone walks past the headquarters of the Chinese state newspaper People’s Daily in Beijing, China on October 6, 2018. Photo taken on 6 October 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

The demand for online censor services provided by Shanghai-listed People.cn has increased since last year, after China tightened its already strict online censorship rules.

As a unit of the People’s Daily – the ruling Communist y’s mouthpiece – it is seen by clients as the go-to online censorship. Investors, lifting shares in People.cn by about 240 percent since the beginning of 2019.

“The greatest benefit of the People.cn is the precise understanding of policy, trends,” said A Fushuang, an independent analyst based in Shenzhen.

In recent years, China connect tens of thousands of websites and social media accounts that what said, was of illegal content as “vulgar” and sexually explicit material.

Tibet, Taiwan, 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square, and even of the local government scandals, are also sensitive topics sensitive to censorship.

The people.cn has picked up deals with tech companies, including leading news aggregator Jinri Toutiao to identify and remove material that does not meet the guidelines of the government.

The other partners are Liangziyun, Shenzhen-based tech company that works with nearly 1000 social media accounts and has hundreds of millions of followers.

For the full year, net income is expected to have risen as much as 140 percent, People.cn said at the end of January, the biggest annual increase since 2011. That would mean that the net profit of as high as 214.8 million yuan ($31.93 million).

The proceeds of his censor business is expected to have increased 166 percent last year, the company said in a filing to the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

Encouraged by rising sales, People.cn is raising a larger army of censors. This month, the signing of a strategic deal with the government of Jinan in the eastern Shandong province to help the city become China censorship capital.

The people.cn, of which the content-vetting company has hundreds of employees, the setting up of an affiliate company in Jinan, the official Jinan Daily reported, signed by the city, close to Beijing and a wide range of graduates that could join the company as content analysts.

The people.cn declined to comment when asked by Reuters about the expansion plans and the expected profit, which, in the middle of April.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Types of content reviewed by People.cn including images, text, music, video, apps, games, ads, and animations, according to the company.

The people.cn’s online content review platform able to detect and remove the most sensitive online material via artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms, Ye Zhenzhen, president of People.cn, wrote in an article in February.

The bottom-line is the filtering and blocking of harmful information and the place and the correct false ideas in time, Ye said.

Content that AI has problems with the recognition of and the information in the “grey areas”, such as metaphors and subtle references is left to human analysts.

“The platform fits the key words for the monitoring from time to time according to the directives of the Communist y propaganda department,” said a Beijing-based manager at a large US listed Chinese tech company that had worked with People.cn to develop AI technology for the platform.

The platform continues to learn new words and rules on its own, for example by withholding of state media reports, the person, who was not authorized to speak to the media, told Reuters.

“With a number of big-name social media accounts to be closed recently, companies pay more and more attention for content compliance,” said independent researcher.

“And with the development of 5G, the space and scale for online content censorship market will only grow bigger and bigger.”

($1 = 6.7282 Chinese yuan renminbi

Reporting by Ayslu Zhang ang Ryan Woo.; Edited by Lincoln Feast

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