From the Archives: Censorship of "Civil Society"
Recently I've been reviewing my archives of screenshots illustrating Internet censorship in the PRC. I've got images going back to 2008, and one of the most interesting things to me is to find screenshots showing what was NOT being censored back then, but is being censored now. For example, the screenshot below was taken on January 12, 2011, and shows that a search on Baidu for "Civil Society" (公民社会) returned results from a variety of sources including social media (tieba.baidu.com is Baidu's "PostBar" forum website) and overseas websites (nccu.edu.tw is the website of National Chengzhi University in Taiwan).
The following image was taken on November 14, 2023, and shows that the same search on Baidu now only returns results from a whitelist of websites under the direct control of the PRC central government and Communist Party.
The following screenshot shows the same restricted results on the last page of Baidu's search results.
Baidu is not, however, willing to take any chances when it comes to censoring its own social media platforms. For example, the left screenshot was taken in 2011, and shows that at that time a search for "Civil Society" on Baidu's "Zhidao" Q&A platform returned many results. The right screenshot was taken in 2023 and shows the same search returns no results, just a notice saying "Sorry, no answers related to 'civil society' were found." (抱歉，没有找到与 “公民社会” 相关的回答。)