This is one piece of a presentation by Dr. King-Wa Fu on Chinese censorship and Sina Weibo (China’s enormous micro-blogging platform most easily compared to Twitter) given at the 10th Annual Chinese Internet Research Conference held at the University of Southern California.
The graph below shows just how fast Internet censors in China were able to remove a Sina Weibo post deemed “sensitive.” The post was critical of newspaper editorials demanding an apology from the US over its role in Cheng Guangcheng’s escape from an extralegal house arrest.
Now here’s the curios part — the post didn’t use any banned keywords that would trigger automatic detection by a computer program. It also wasn’t a particularly extreme post, critical but hardly rebellious.
Dr. Fu explained that this post had to have been removed by human censors.
So how long did it take?
Dr. Fu said that time was probably still considered slow by authorities, who researchers believe are going for a 1 hour removal time. In the 3 hours the post was live it was exposed to tens of millions of Weibo users – based on the follower numbers of people who reposted it.
And what exactly was this Weibo post that needed to be removed so quickly?
Here it is translated by the China Media Project:
“How can you not be ashamed that a dignified citizen must flee inside his own country? You must live up to the sun that shines every day across this land. 60 years [of CCP rule], and what this country needs is to settle its soul. What it needs is a set of core values the people of the nation can be proud of. What this country needs is its own way [and principles], not an apology from another country. I’ve heard the saying, “A just cause deserves abundant support, and an unjust cause must find little support” (得道多助，失道寡助). But I’ve never heard the saying, “An apology deserves abundant support, and no apology must find little support” (得道歉多助，失道歉寡助).”
Doesn’t seem so frightening does it? But it must have had Chinese censors pretty scared.
Dr. King-Wa Fu is leading a research team studying China’s Internet at the Journalism and Media Studies centre at The University of Hong Kong. They are focusing specifically on Sina Weibo, and looking at how Chinese netizens use the Internet and how the government seeks to control it.
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