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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chinese Social Media Filtering Is Quite Tolerable

All of us know about the online censorship regimes enforced in such countries as China, but not everyone can imagine how it feels and how it really works. Now Harvard researchers have been using new software to see how the Chinese censors social media websites. They found out that it isn’t actually as all encompassing as everyone thought. The Economist confirmed that while it was believed that most of social media publications had been censored, the real figure is much lower and more specific than you can think.

The Harvard team of researchers discovered that only 13% of social media publications on “dangerous subjects” are censored. According to Gary King, a professor in the university’s government department and the lead author of the report in question, he investigated the activity surrounding 85 sensitive topics – from 2011 protests in Inner Mongolia to Ai Weiwei.

The most surprising is that these publications are appearing at all, considering the perception that the Chinese get a knock on the door from Inspector Knacker if they even think of protests. Meanwhile, the publications critical of the government weren’t rigorously censored unless they had the purpose of getting citizens to assemble (potentially in protest). These ones usually get swept from the web within a matter of hours if not minutes.

Gary King said that the government didn’t care much how it looked – its only aim was to stop Chinese people from gathering. Thus far, the teams have been focused on looking back on the information regarding past events and consider that they are able to track the censors operations as events unfold.

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