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
Date Written: May 15, 2013
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
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By Jun Liu