Regulating Blogging and Microblogging in China
12 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2013
Date Written: January 24, 2013
Because Chinese bloggers and microbloggers publish their opinions under the government’s scrutiny, an interesting issue is whether or not these social media have influenced Chinese people’s perceptions and conceptions of human rights. Blogging and microblogging activities require user involvement, communications, connection, and sharing. Such social interaction may lead to the establishment of new social issues and substantial changes in values and ideas. In the blogosphere where politics are not concerned, bloggers, microbloggers, and the Chinese courts have begun to define the scope of free speech. Therefore, social media’s impact on China’s politics and human rights — especially free speech and privacy — may be a gradual and subtle evolution, rather than a democratic revolution.
From the perspectives of Chinese bloggers, the political control of online expression, such as censorship, is actually a tradeoff for free speech outside the political domain. In this essay, I will first analyze how the Chinese government controls political blogging and microblogging activities. Then I will examine a recent Chinese defamation case, Beijing Kingsoft Security Software Co., Ltd. v. Zhou, in which Chinese courts first explored the social role of microblogging and its relations with free speech. The Chinese case exhibits some controversies similar to the recent U.S. online defamation case, Obsidian Finance Group, LLC v. Cox, which was decided by an Oregon federal district court around the same time. From the Chinese court decision, we can, to some extent, understand that vigorous social media activities have gradually influenced the human rights practices in China in a positive way.
Keywords: blog, microblog, weibo, China, Internet, free speech
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