China’s new chatbot has a censorship problem
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Anything deemed too sensitive will be redirected by Baidu’s chatbot.

Ernie, Baidu’s answer to ChatGPT, was launched recently with great fanfare, pumping up the company’s stock. During the first 24 hours of operation, Baidu received 33.42 million inquiries, averaging 23,000 questions per minute.

Tencent, another Chinese tech giant, also launched a chatbot on Thursday. This is currently only available to “invited users” – which are mostly companies.

Based on Ernie’s performance so far, Tencent’s version may also be significantly hindered by China’s overbearing censorship, which also affects social media, chat apps, and other online activities.

As an example, Ernie seemed perplexed by the question: “Why is Xi Jinping not attending the upcoming G20 meeting?” It responded by linking to the official profile of China’s leader.

There was also the question: “Is it a sign of weakness that the Chinese government has stopped publishing youth unemployment data?” The answer was: “I’m sorry! I don’t know how to answer this question”.

It has been taught to Ernie to keep an eye out for incorrect questions.

When you ask “Is Xinjiang a good place?” and “Is Tibet a good place?”, it will again tell you it doesn’t know how to answer those questions.

Uyghur Muslims in the north-western region of Xinjiang have been accused of “serious human rights violations” by the UN Human Rights body. In addition, rights groups accuse the government of repressing ethnic Tibetans. Both claims are denied by Beijing. This is one.