Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sina Weibo Hides Censorship of Lawyers Being "Disappeared" on "Black Friday"

On July 12, 2015, the state sponsored Global Times published an editorial entitled “Radical Lawyers are Making a Mockery of the Profession.” Some excerpts:
China's Ministry of Public Security recently cracked down on a "major criminal gang," including the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm, for creating trouble and disturbing social order.
. . . .
In reporting this case, the foreign media highlighted the human rights lawyers' "loss of communication" and "disappearance." But the authority responded quickly this time with detailed information. "Lawyers' disappearance" has become a term to smear China's judicial system. 

As noted in this blog yesterday, on the evening of July 10, 2015, Sina Weibo began censoring search results for the names of certain Chinese lawyers. As the screenshots below show, at that time Sina Weibo began displaying a censorship notice when users searched for "Li Heping" (李和平律师).

 The screenshot below was taken in the evening of July 11th, and shows that when a user searched for "Lawyer Li Heping," they were no longer told that results are being censored. Instead, they were left with the impression that there has not been a single post on Sina Weibo about Li Heping since April 5.

These screenshots shots show that around the same time, Sina Weibo began censoring "Lawyers Disappeared" (律师 被失踪 - perhaps more precisely translated as "Lawyers Have Been Disappeared"). Sina did not, however, provide any kind of notification of their censorship, instead leaving users to believe that not a single post containing that phrase had been made in 2015.

These screenshots show that Sina adopted a similar censorship method for the term "Black Friday Lawyers" (黑色星期五 律师).