Thursday, November 8, 2012

As 18th Party Congress Convenes, Sina Weibo Removes Censorship Notice, Steers Users to Official Content, Obscures User Posts

Update November 9, 2012 - It appears that Sina Weibo has started displaying its censorship notice again - see below.

On November 7, 2012, China's official news service Xinhua announced that the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China is scheduled to open on November 8.

These screenshots show that in the days preceding the opening of the 18th Party Congress Sina Weibo stopped censoring phrases like "18th Big Meeting" (十八大) and the names of current members Politburo Standing Committee like "Xi Jinping" (习近平).

Sina continued, however, to censor names of family members. These screenshots show that, not only is Sina censoring searches for the name of Xi's daughter, Xi Mingze (习明泽), it has also stopped providing a censorship notice, and is instead saying it is unable to locate any results.

At the same time, Sina also began censoring terms that sound similar to "18th Big Meeting" but that would be likely to point to unofficial posts, such as "18大," "撕八大," and "斯巴达."

These screenshots show that Sina was in fact continuing to censor terms such as "18 Big" (十八大).  The first page only shows posts from official sources such as Xinhua and the People's Daily.
 By page three, there is only one result (from Sina's official account), and censorship notice has now appeared.
 By page five, Sina says it can no longer find any results.

Update - These screenshots show that by November 9 Sina Weibo was once again displaying a censorship notice for searches such as "Xi Mingze" and "斯巴达."