CMU study analyzes what China deletes

Salt is one word bitter to censors
March 8, 2012 12:01 am

Share with others:

The blogger added that every content-related Internet service provider in the country is required to hire full-time employees to monitor content and employees must report to the government's Internet Propaganda department. Sina Weibo CEO Charles Chao said that company employs 100 censors, which the CMU study called a "low estimate."

Despite the constant surveillance, Chinese citizens aren't afraid to go out on a limb online, said Ben Farkas, Synthesio's director of U.S. sales and operations. He pointed out that during a breach in China's firewall that allowed Chinese citizens to access Google's Google+ social media service last week, hundreds of messages were sent to President Barack Obama's page decrying censorship and asking him to support the cause.

"It's kind of cool to see they took advantage of that time to say they're different from their government and are being suppressed by the wall," he said.

Even with the blocks, Chinese citizens are finding ways to get around censors to send political messages, said David Wertime, co-editor of the e-magazine Tea Leaf Nation, which focuses on social media and censorship in China.

He said citizens regularly use slang words, homonyms and Roman numerals to refer to potentially sensitive topics and names. More determined citizens also attach digital images to Weibo messages that include text blocks not searchable by censors.

And while Mr. Wertime seemed concerned that the Chinese government's plans to require real names on all Sina Weibo accounts by March 16 could discourage open discussion, he said he doubted the most vocal members of the Sina Weibo will back down when the day comes.

"People who aren't familiar with Chinese social media would be shocked at the level of candor and how often people stick their neck out to give frank and open comments, even if they're counter to the party line," he said.


First Published 2012-03-07 23:36:10

Join the conversation:

Commenting policy | How to report abuse
Commenting policy | How to report abuse
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
PG Products