Assessing Censorship on Microblogs in China: Discriminatory Keyword Analysis and Impact Evaluation of the 'Real Name Registration' Policy

IEEE Internet Computing, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 42-50, May-June 2013, doi:10.1109/MIC.2013.28

22 Pages Posted: 16 May 2013  

King-wa Fu

The University of Hong Kong

Chung-hong Chan

The University of Hong Kong

Michael Chau

The University of Hong Kong

Date Written: May 15, 2013

Abstract

The authors investigated censorship practices and the use of microblogs — or weibos, in Chinese — using 111 million microblogs collected between 1 January and 30 June 2012. To better control for alternative explanations for censorship decisions attributable to an individual's characteristics and choices, they used a matched case-control study design to determine a list of Chinese terms that discriminate censored and uncensored posts written by the same microbloggers. This list includes homophones and puns created by Chinese microbloggers to circumvent the censors successfully. The study's design also made it possible to evaluate the real-name registration system's impact on microbloggers' posting activities. Findings suggest that the new policy might have stopped some microbloggers from writing about social and political subjects.

Keywords: Internet, China, Government policies, Blogs, Information filtering, Access control, Internet censorship, Real-Name Registration, Microblogging

Suggested Citation

Fu, King-wa and Chan, Chung-hong and Chau, Michael, Assessing Censorship on Microblogs in China: Discriminatory Keyword Analysis and Impact Evaluation of the 'Real Name Registration' Policy (May 15, 2013). IEEE Internet Computing, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 42-50, May-June 2013, doi:10.1109/MIC.2013.28. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2265271

King-wa Fu (Contact Author)

The University of Hong Kong ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong, Pokfulam HK
China

Chung-hong Chan

The University of Hong Kong ( email )

School of Economics and Finance,K.K.Leung Building
The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Michael Chau

The University of Hong Kong ( email )

School of Business, K.K.Leung Building
The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong
Hong Kong

HOME PAGE: http://www.business.hku.hk/~mchau/

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