Despite a large amount of criticism over “fake news” and American journalism, things could be worse when you look at the extreme censorship of news media that exists across the world. For the billions of people deprived of this right, getting around government enforced censorship is no easy task, but there may now be a glimmer of hope due to a brilliant hack by Reporters Without Borders Germany.
It was discovered that while some of the most repressive countries routinely restricted access to independent blogs and news media by blocking individual sites or social networks, the ability to censor music is not as easy. So when Reporters Without Borders Germany realized this digital loophole earlier this year, they went to work at taking advantage of it in a creative and very effective way.
Acclaimed journalists from five countries where both censorship and streaming music use were high (China, Egypt, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam), teamed up with Musical Director Lucas Mayer to turn censored news articles into uncensored pop songs.
The Uncensored Playlist quietly hit top streaming music services Spotify, Apple Music, and Deezer, and despite no major publicity at launch, the songs quickly rose to the top of the individual country song charts.
What makes the plan more brilliant is that there is little that these oppressive governments can do to stop the movement. Due to the way the streaming music services work, individual songs cannot be removed or censored. Instead, the entire service would need to be blocked. That means if a country like Thailand wanted to shut the songs down, it would have to shut Spotify, Apple Music, and Deezer out of the country entirely.
While China may have the resources to block the music sites and build their own, the other countries would have a harder time successfully pulling it off. So unless these outside music services give in to pressure by blocking individual songs — a move that is very unlikely — these censor-loving governments are going to have to accept these messages making into the ears of their citizens.