Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Renhuai - Another Protest, Another City Disappears from Sina Weibo

Protesters in Renhuai, Guizhou
On July 23, 2012, the state-sponsored Global Times reported:
Thousands of residents of Renhuai, southwestern China's Guizhou Province took to the streets on Friday and Saturday to protest inadequate compensation offered to farmers after the local government expropriated  their land to make way for an industrial park that will turn the city into "the Liquor Capital of China."
According to a press release posted on the local government's official website, the mass gathering was incited by a dozen farmers, and government offices and vehicles were damaged by the crowd that had gathered.
Witnesses, however, said around 7,000 people gathered in front of the government building of Tanchang town in Renhuai, and thousands of armed police were dispatched in the city.
The screenshot, taken on July 23, shows that a search for "Renhuai" (仁怀) on Sina Weibo returned no results, just a notice saying: "In accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, search results for 'Renhuai' have not been displayed." (根据相关法律法规和政策,“仁怀”搜索结果未予显示。)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Global Times Op-Ed: US Consulate Weibo Closure Result of Its Arrogant Tone, Harmful Influence

On July 13, 2012, the state-sponsored Global Times reported:
The official Sina Weibo account of the US Consulate General in Shanghai became "inaccessible" since Thursday morning for unknown reasons, a diplomat has told the Global Times. "We discovered our Consulate Shanghai's official Sina Weibo page cannot be accessed since the opening hour of business at 8 am on Thursday morning. We're now trying to find out why," Wylita Bell, an information officer for the US Consulate General in Shanghai, said.
. . . .
According to latest Sina regulations that took effect in May, any accounts that published more than five pieces of sensitive information that violate Chinese laws, contain rumors, or leak national secrets will be asked to delete the information and be punished by being barred from posting for over 48 hours. For those who maliciously post sensitive information, their accounts will be shut down.
This follows the recent shutdowns of the Weibo accounts for the New York Times and Bloomberg.

On July 16, the Global Times published an op-ed by "Hu Yue" (identified as a "media critic") entitled "In the Hope That the US Consulate Will Learn to be More Cautious" (希望美驻华领馆由此学会“慎独”). An excerpt:
On Weibo, people can enjoy a high degree of "freedom of speech" -- each person is a media outlet unto themselves, and when you publish information it would seem that you are not subject to any "screening" standards beyond your own moral consciousness. As a result, on Weibo one can find all manner of information, moral and immoral, true and false.
. . . .
Within this context, let us now take a look at the closure of the US Shanghai Consulate's Weibo. . . . Much of its information can be classified as "garbage" that is harmful to society. For example, before it was shut down, this Weibo once defended its opinions by using the opposite perspective of a Party newspaper paired with a somewhat "cutesy" cartoon. At first blush it appeared satirical and mocking, even a bit "innocent." In fact, it was "artfully" issuing a challenge to Chinese government authority, and in addition, the challenge carried with it a kind of "condescending" air. It was, in essence, an unintentional demonstration of the kind of arrogance one is used to seeing from America.

This kind of arrogance is no longer an issue of free speech, but rather is an matter of one country's attitude. When you add to this the influence of the Weibo platform, the harmful social influence caused by this Weibo is not insignificant. The closure of this Weibo was in fact a kind of response to its arrogant attitude, and was also Chinese society defending itself against an outside "infectious virus."
. . . .
This Weibo was shut down for spreading illegal and immoral speech online, and was simply the result of its having crossed the line.
The screenshot shows the US Shanghai Consulate's notice regarding its Sina Weibo account deletion posted on its Tencent Weibo.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Baidu Forum Bans Anonymous Posting, Warns Users About "Harmful Information"

On July 6, 2012, the following announcement appeared on the Baidu "Tieba Notice Board" - http://tieba.baidu.com/p/1706986305:
[Notice] Say Goodbye to the Anonymous IP Party, Anonymous Posting Functionality on Tieba to be Taken Offline

To All Bar Friends:

Owing to the fact that currently utilization of anonymous posting to engage in malicious activities such as publishing fake ads and harmful information is running rampant, to the point where it is interfering with normal browsing and discussions between moderators and users, on July 12 Tieba will eliminate online anonymous posting, clean up Tieba's discussion environment, and safeguard the interests of the majority of the Great Bar's users.



On July 12, 2012, the following announcement (which originally appeared on the Baidu "Tieba Notice Board" on May 12, 2012) was bumped to the top of the board - http://tieba.baidu.com/p/1584959322:
In order to safeguard everyone's common interests, please do not post any harmful information whatsoever on Bars, in order to avoid Tieba from being shut down. At the same time we would remind all our Internet friends that, with respect to those who do post harmful information on Bars, the relevant agencies of the State will pursue you to hold you legally responsible in accordance with the law.



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sina Weibo Censors "The Truth" (Literally)

From at least June 26 through July 9, 2012, searching on Sina Weibo for "The Truth" (真相) returned no results, just a notice saying "In accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, search results for 'the truth' have not been displayed." (根据相关法律法规和政策,“真相”搜索结果未予显示。)

The screenshot below was taken on June 26.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sina Weibo Censors "378" - Number of People Rumored to Have Died in Tianjin Fire

On July 7, 2012, the Shanghai Daily reported:
Tianjin City in northern China yesterday published a list of 10 victims who died in a shopping mall inferno in a bid to refute rumors that at least 378 people died in the fire.

The city government's list, posted online yesterday, shows that nine of the 10 victims were shop assistants working on the fourth and fifth floors of the mall. Only one customer is said to have been killed in last Saturday's blaze. The 10 women were aged between 25 and 44.
This screenshot shows that on July 7 Sina Weibo was censoring searches for "378."