Kuaishou, a leading short video platform in China, is planning to add around 3,000 content checkers (in Chinese) to its existing 2,000-member team in order to help filter content deemed illegal or inappropriate by the authority.

According to the job description, the candidates should hold a bachelor degree or higher, have “high-level of morality and political awareness”, and preferably be members of the Communist Youth League or the Communist Party. Kuaishou already maintains a sizable censor factory that operates in six cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Wuxi, Wuhan, Harbin, and Yancheng.

This new recruitment spree could be translated as a measure to cope with the government crackdown on vulgar content. China’s internet watchdog SAPPRFT (State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television) issued an order to Kuaishou to clean up their contents last week, shortly after the platform was exposed by state media CCTV for its failure to censor videos featuring teenage moms.

Crackdowns like this are being launched with increasing frequency, affecting pretty much every major content-generating platform in China. Toutiao is named in the same SAPPRFT order to purge its contents, while Huoshan̦—the short video platform backed by Toutiao—closed all accounts (in Chinese) of underage users. Weibo was ordered to go with a sanitized version of their trending topics. Given the circumstances, in-house “content patrol” units are becoming a crucial part of all internet companies. Leading tech firms like Tencent and Toutiao are expanding their content checking team.

Meanwhile, the issue also brings back a yearlong debate on whether technology is morally neutral. Both sides of the argument have their advocates. Toutiao CEO Zhang Yiming said to local media “Technology should be neutral. No intervention is the best distribution principle.”

Kuaishou CEO, Su Hua, takes the opposite stance: “People have their own values and they will endow their values to the algorithm,” said Su Hua, Kuaishou CEO.

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via lixin@sixthtone.com or Twitter.

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