Monday, July 18, 2011

Two China Media Figures Quit Sina Weibo Over Censorship

On July 14, two China-based bloggers, Song Shinan (宋石男) and Jia Jia (贾葭), simultaneously published announcements on their iFeng.com blogs that they would no longer be posting to Sina's Weibo. As the screenshots below show, their blog posts (which linked to one-another) were deleted in less than an hour. 



The articles were also deleted from other blogging services where they had been reposted.

Jia's post was entitled "Everyone is a Victim-Dear Sina Weibo" (每个人都是受害者——致新浪微博), and it was originally available here: http://blog.ifeng.com/article/12395590.html. Here is an excerpt:
It was around February 2010 when two Sina Weibo editors repeatedly called asking me to open a Sina Weibo account. In early 2009 I had opened a Twitter account around the time of the big CCTV building fire, and I wasn't particularly interested in domestic copy-cat products, but the inability of so many friends to circumvent the Great Firewall left me with no choice but to try Weibo, so I agreed to register. The address was t.sina.com.cn / jajia, and my verified identity was "GQ" Magazine Senior Editor.
. . . .
In early December last year, because of a certain porcelain brand, I was unilaterally blocked for 15 days. I was the only person who could see what I wrote, others couldn't see it (and many other users had been unilaterally designated in this manner). In May of this year, because of some black seeds, my speech was censored for 26 long days (there are even more users who are like this). In the past half year my ID has been hidden and my account has not been searchable by other users. On June 12, after I merely reposted some photos of the Zengcheng incident I was immediately banned from logging into my account.
I want to particularly note that, during those latter two incidents Netease, Tencent, Sohu, and Phoenix did not block or delete my speech. Those familiar with Internet management should know that when it comes to microblog censorship, there is only one set of requirements, and Sina Weibo wouldn't be subjected to stricter orders or a broad blocking scope. The conclusion is therefore obvious that during the latter two incidents the scope of Sina Weibo's censorship was self-imposed.
As a someone who works in media, I have a deep understanding of where the bottom lines are when it comes to speech in China. Most of the time when a given topic becomes the subject of heated public discussion, certain concessions will be made in the scope of censorship. If the volcano of public opinion is rashly kindled, the consequences will be unthinkable. Its a game of struggle and compromise. In other words, when everyone takes a step forward, the bottom line will take a step back. 
大概是2010年2月,新浪微博的两位编辑,轮番打电话请我在新浪微博开设账户。我早在09年初央视大火之时注册了推特,对国内的山寨产品兴趣不大,但碍于很多不能翻墙的朋友只能玩微博,就答应注册了。地址是t.sina.com.cn/jajia,认证身份是《GQ》杂志资深编辑。
. . . .
在去年12月初,因为某个瓷砖品牌,我被单向屏蔽15天之久。说的话只有我自己看得到,别人都看不见(还有许多用户被这样单向认证)。在今年4月,因为几颗黑瓜子儿,我被审核发言长达26天(这样的用户就更多了)。这半年里,我的ID被隐藏,账户无法被其他用户搜索到。6月12日,因为增城事件,我仅仅转发了几张照片,账户被立刻禁止登录。
     
我要特别说明的是,在后两起事件中,网易微博、腾讯微博、搜狐微博、凤凰微博并未屏蔽或者删除我的发言。熟悉互联网管理的人应该知道,在微博审查这块,口径是一致的,新浪微博并不会得到更严格的指令或者更广阔的封杀范围。结论很明显,在后两起事件中,新浪微博的审查尺度是自我设置。
     
作为媒体人,我深知中国言论的尺度和底线何在。在更多的时候,如果一个公众话题被激烈讨论之时,审查尺度会做些许有限度地退让。民意的火山如果被轻易点燃,后果无法设想。这是一个斗争与妥协的游戏。易言之,当所有人都往前走一步的时候,底线会后退一步。

Song's post was entitled "Why I Left Sina Weibo" (我为什么离开新浪微博), and it was originally available here: http://blog.ifeng.com/article/12395633.html. Here are some excerpts:

In the past I have asserted that the structure of Sina Weibo and the structure of Chinese society have much in common. Now I think I only go it half right. It would be more accurate to put it this way: The user structure of Sina Weibo and the structure of Chinese society have much in common in that the means by which Sina Weibo is ruled has much in common with the means by which totalitarians rule.
What are the means by which totalitarians rule? Please allow me to quote a paragraph: "Don't let them have judgment. Just give them cars, motorcycles, stars, stimulating music, fashionable clothes, and a sense of competitiveness. Deprive them of their thinking and root them in obedience to the orders of their leaders. Let them think that any idea that is different from the groups is the enemy of the public." It was not Cao Guowei or Chen Tong who said this, it was Hitler.
Of course, Sina Weibo is also advancing with the times, and its ruling method is rich in Chinese characteristics. Sina CEO Cao Guowei once honestly confessed: "When a sensitive topic crops up, Sina can creatively limit the content of conversations instead of deleting it entirely." This is like a rapist saying that when he encounters a stunner, he can creatively go down on them instead of sticking it right in.
I am going to further expose this "creatively restricting the content of conversations." It is nothing more than these four: 1, deleting posts 2, masking posts 3, banning speech 4, deleting accounts.
As for deleting posts there isn't much to say - its the same everywhere. The treacherous thing about Sina is that they rarely use the method of directly deleting posts, but use masks and bans.
Masking is a creative invention of Sina, with both hard and soft masking. Hard masking is when only you can see on your own posts, and they won't appear on your followers' TL (timeline). Even if they click on your Weibo page, they can't see it; soft masking is when the post won't appear in your followers' TL, but if they click on your Weibo page, they can see it. Masking posts is a crafty, bloodless murder, a monumental restriction on the spread of posts of which the parties remain completely oblivious.
Banning speech is yet another creative invention of Sina. Getting banned is also called "getting locked up in the small black house." Every Weibo sent by the banned person will be reviewed and then released or delayed. Even if it is released, it has almost zero chance of spreading because it tends to fall out of the TL of the followers within a few hours of publication. It is worth mentioning that it is not only the posts of the banned person that will be delayed, but also their responses and replies.
From Sina's perspective banning speech carries with it two main benefits: 1. It saves labor costs. Sina has thousands of Weibo network administrators, but in the face of the vast ocean of public wars there will always be unstoppable forces. 2. It forces users to self-censor. This is particularly despicable. In order to avoid being banned, users often self-censor their speech. Those who have been banned are even more inclined to develop fear and depression. When they are once again able to post Weibo, they will inevitably have a "grateful heart" and a "nervous heart."
Banning speech may seem to be part of the national condition, when it fact it is actually a lynching. It is like the next big move in the central government's game, after it has quietly raising the stakes in this little corner it will eventually easily wipe the board of those who fail to fall in line. One can more or less understand why Sina Weibo deletes and masks posts, because they have to protect themselves. It is also understandable that businessmen would be willing to arbitrarily delete and mask, because the little bureaucrats must protect their rice bowls. But banning speech crosses the line and is incomprehensible and unacceptable. Because banning speech is a great insult to people, and it is an arbitrary violation of people's fundamental rights. There is no essential difference between this kind deprivation of personal liberty and something like reeducation through labor.
Today, Sina Weibo can ban me from speaking because I posted "sensitive Xinhua News" it can ban him because he criticized Sina and ban her because she had a conflict of interest with Sina. It may ban you tomorrow for any reason whatsoever. An oligopoly that hides behind "following orders from Internet Control" can abuse its power and control all netizens without any reason, without having to follow any rules or accept any punishment.
Therefore, on Sina Weibo, netizens who have been banned for a long time or had their IDs directly deleted have formed a unique phenomenon called the “reincarnation party” (registering a new ID, adding the words "II, III" after their original user name). Xiao Yu, who has been reincarnated 40 or 50 times, is one of the representative figures. However, Xiao Yu finally couldn't bear it anymore. At the end of last month, he spent nearly 8 hours, and deleted all of his 8,539 microblogs (perhaps nearly 18,000 mouse clicks) and left Sina. Xiao Yu is a well-known person, and his reincarnation or departure could draw some attention every time. But there are still a large number of unknown reincarnates who can only die silently, live silently, and be filled with perseverance throughout.
. . . .
Let it be known that we must fight. "An orderly society cannot rely solely on a reign of silence built on people's fear of punishment to maintain it." The same is true of Weibo.
[N.B. This is a direct translation. However, it appears to be referring to the concurrence of Justice Brandeis in Whitney v. California - "[O]rder cannot be secured merely through fear of punishment for its infraction."]
Let it be known that we must choose, "There are only two choices for people, either to recognize that existence must be prioritized over freedom, or to recognize that freedom must be prioritized over existence." My choice is the latter.
Let it be known that we must unite, "No man is an island." If Sina silences you, it silences everyone, because freedom is indivisible, as long as a single person is enslaved, there is no freedom.
As mentioned above, my friend Jia Jia and I left Sina Weibo today. Sina thinks that everyone can surrender their dignity and put up with their arbitrary torture for a tiny and  pathetic opportunity to have their voice heard. But I am sorry, we can't.
 So I am leaving, for those friends who remain on Sina Weibo, you don't have to be regretful or sentimental. I believe that in the near future, there will be more people like me. And like me they will go online like those who don't have Sina. 
我曾有过断言,说新浪微博的结构与中国社会的结构高度重合。现在我觉得只说了一半。应该这么说才更全:新浪微博的用户结构与中国社会的结构高度重合而新浪微博的统治手段与极权者的统治手段高度雷同。
极权者的统治手段是什么?请允许我引用一段话:“不要让他们有判断力。只要给他们汽车、摩托车、明星、刺激的音乐、流行的服饰,以及竞争意识就行了。剥夺他们的思考力,根植他们服从指导者命令的服从心。让他们认为想法和大家不同的就是公敌。”说这话的不是曹国伟也不是陈彤,是希特勒。
当然,新浪微博也与时俱进,它的统治手段富含中国特色的狡黠。新浪CEO曹国伟曾老实巴交地坦白:“出现敏感话题时,新浪可创造性地限制谈话内容,而不是将其全部删除”。这就好比一个强奸犯说,当遇到一个尤物时,他可创造性地口交,而不是直接用几把插入。
我来进一步揭穿这种“创造性地限制谈话内容”的手法。无非四种:1、删帖 2、屏蔽贴 3、禁言 4、删ID。
删帖不用多说。哪里都差不多。新浪的奸诈之处在于,他们现在很少使用直接删帖的手法,而多用屏蔽贴和禁言。
屏蔽是新浪一项创造性发明,有硬屏蔽与软屏蔽之分。硬屏蔽就是帖子只有你自己看得到,你的关注者的TL(时间线)上不会出现,他即使点你的微博页面,也看不到;软屏蔽就是帖子在你的关注者的TL上不会出现,但他若点你的微博页面,可以看到。屏蔽贴是杀人不见血的下流伎俩,极大地限制了帖子的传播,却让当事者浑然不觉。
禁言是新浪又一项创造性发明。禁言又叫关小黑屋。被禁言者发出的每一条微博,都会被审核,之后或者延时放出,或者被吞掉。即使放出,由于往往在发表的几小时之后,显然会跌出关注者的TL,几乎是零传播。值得一提的是,被禁言者不但发帖会被审核延迟,回复或跟帖也一样。
禁言对新浪的好处主要有二:1、节约人力成本。新浪有上千名微博网管,但面对群众战争的汪洋大海,仍有力不能逮的时候。2、逼迫用户自我审核。这是最可恶的。用户为避免被禁言,常会对言论进行自我审核。被禁言过的人,更是会形成恐惧和阴影,再能发微博时不免怀揣着一颗“感恩的心”和“紧张的心”。
禁言看上去是国情,其实是私刑。就好比中央在下一盘很大的棋,然后地方暗自加码,将平日不好动的人顺手收拾了。新浪微博删帖、屏蔽贴勉强可以理解,因站方要自保。业务水平低乱删乱屏蔽也可以理解,因小管要保饭碗。但禁言击穿底线,无法理解也无法接受。因为禁言是对人的极大侮辱,也是对人基本权利的极蛮横侵犯,跟劳教一类的剥夺人身自由没有本质区别。
今天新浪微博可以因为我发“敏感的新华社消息”禁言我,因为他批评新浪而禁言他,因为她与新浪有利益冲突而禁言她,明天也可能因任何理由禁言你。一个躲在“奉旨网络管制”下的寡头垄断企业,尽可以滥用权力、私自加码去管制所有网友,而无需给出任何理由,无需遵循任何规则,也无需接受任何惩罚。
于是,在新浪微博,被长期禁言或直接删除ID的网友,就形成了“转世党”这一独特的现象(注册新ID,在原用户名后加上二世、三世等字样)。“转世”多达4、50次的萧瀚,当是代表人物之一。但萧瀚也终于无法再忍受,就在上月底,他花了近8个小时,将自己的8539条微博全部删完(可能点击鼠标近18000次),离开新浪。萧瀚算知名人士,他的转世或离开,每次都能引起一些关注。但还有大量无名的转世者,只能默默地死,默默地生,在时光中注满坚忍。
. . . .
要知道,我们必须抗争,“一个有序的社会,不能仅仅依靠人们对惩罚的恐惧和鸦雀无声来维系”,微博同样如此。
要知道,我们必须选择,“人的选择只有两种,要么承认存在高于自由,要么承认自由高于存在。”我的选择是后者。
要知道,我们必须联合,“每个人都不是一个孤岛”。新浪禁言你,它就是禁言所有人,因为自由不可分割,只要一人受奴役,那就不存在全体的自由。
因上所述,我和我的朋友贾葭在今日离开新浪微博。新浪以为所有人都可以为了一点可怜的传播力,而放弃尊严,为他们任意揉搓,但是对不起,我们不行。
走就走了,还在新浪微博的朋友,你们不必遗憾也不必感伤,相信不久的将来会有更多人像我一样,像我一样,就像世界上没有新浪那样上网。

Translation: Huang Xuqin and Wang Jianbing Inciting Subversion Indictment

On June 14, 2024, the Twitter account "Free Huang Xueqin & Wang Jianbing 释放雪饼" (@FreeXueBing)  posted a copy of the last two p...