Study of “Soft” Censorship of Social Media in China

“Researchers in Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science analyzed millions of Chinese microblogs, or “weibos,” to uncover a set of politically sensitive terms that draw the attention of Chinese censors. Individual messages containing the terms were often deleted at rates that could vary based on current events or geography.

The study is the first large-scale analysis of political content censorship in social media. The analysis found that the level of online censorship varied between different provinces. The phenomenon was particularly notable in Tibet, a hotbed of political unrest, where up to 53 percent of locally generated microblogs were deleted.”

You can read the full press release here.



Political Motivations Behind Chinese Regulation of Social Media Sites?

In the wake of a political scandal involving one of China’s most famous mob-busting security officials, scrutiny on the Chinese government’s political motivations on social media sites has increased. Wang Lijun, the deputy mayor of Chongqing recently visited the US consulate, which has sparked mass online discussion about the purpose of his visit. City officials have stated that he had sought “vacation-style medical treatment”. Microbloggers on Sina Weibo has speculated that Lijun has sought refuge in the embassy and is intending to defect. The Chinese government has usually censored blog posts concerning its officials, however no censorship has been implemented. “Observers have sought to find signs of broader political meaning in an unusual way – by watching how the Chinese authorities have, or have not, censored social media posts on the subject.” The lack of censorship by Chinese government officials seems to imply that they are allowing this story spread on purpose, and perhaps pointing to troubles for Lijun with the top level party officials.

The original article by the New York Times can be found here.