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January 03, 2006


Jon Garfunkel

screwball-- a "peer-to-peer serverless blog distribution program" is email, which carries a good deal of Chinese samizdat publications.

Rebecca-- excellent, solid investigative research and writing. It is long past due for you to change your motto from "musings and occasional rants" to something more fitting.

A couple of points. I realize that Scoble is the big Blog Man on the Redmond Campus, but wouldn't it be grand if we could gauge the opinion of not just one Microsoftee but across the company at large? Shouldn't that be the next stage of online activism, where company employees can collectively discuss social impact issues without fear of reprisal?

Secondly, there is still the larger problem of "voicing unpopular views" which confronts advocates even in this free speech society. I am curious whether the there are writers of ironic subterfuge in Chinese. Are there Chinese bloggers/journalists who write things like: "Pity the freedom-loving Americans. They have so much speech they are chained to their computers all night trying to figure out fact from fiction. Here we only need to read Xinhua."



As you are probably already aware, Microsoft has been censoring many of it's supported platforms for quite some time now.

Take for instance the popular chat service it offers, MSN Messenger. I am not back in the US and my wife is still awaiting her immigration papers in China. So, we spend quite a bit of time chatting over various instant messenger services, such as MSN Messenger. I first became suspicious of our conversations being censored in late 2003 because during large amounts of the conversation would either be erased before she received them or the messages simply never made it to her at all. However, I was able to copy the text I had just typed and paste it into a chat window from another messenger and she was able to received it with no problem. If I tried repasting it back into MSN, it wouldn't go through the second time either.

Anyway, I was just wondering if you or any of your readers had noticed such censorship on MSN Messenger as well? It's happened to me numerous times. Especially after the SARS outbreak.

If you want to know more, feel free to ask.



Robert Scoble

Jon: I wish that were possible, but it's not. I wish I could talk openly about why, but that's not possible either.

We have Chinese employees and taking a harsh stance might endanger them and their livlihoods.

Rebecca MacKinnon

Hey Gordon, thanks for raising that point about messenger filtering. Would love to hear more details about what exactly got censored. Suggestion: next time you have a messenger conversation censored on MSN messenger, and manage to have it successfully on another system, why don't you take screenshots of what happened and then post them on your blog? Nothing like a little visual evidence to get people's attention.


This has happened to lots of other MSN Spaces blogs that I've seen. Could it be something temporary, as the message on the screen says? I've seen this happen many times before--on English-language blogs written from China, Canada and the US--and the content is usually innocuous. It makes me think that it's just a glitch. How long has the site been down?

Jon Garfunkel

Robert: thanks. I just suppose it would be the natural order of things that organizations will use emergent techniques for collecting opinion. You mean to tell me that there is no way for other Microsoft employees to "co-sign" your letter of inquiry?
Given your 6pm update, people must realize that plain ol' blogging isn't quite the cure-all for PR snafu's.

Rebecca: what about my plan B? I like to read Wei Jingsheng's The Courage to Stand Alone: Letters from Prison and Other writers-- is there a comparable blogger today who is able to write in a way that carefully treads the line?


Bitacle Blog Search Archive


Oh for god sake. Why haven't the scum sucking lawyer come out of the woodwork on this?

We have a clear case of the blog being nuked because of the writers opinions. AND ONLY AGAINST THE CHINEESE The servers are in the USA owned by an American company.

This must be the kind of discrimination suit that no American jury would let stand.

Note to Ambulance chasers: Stop chasing hot coffee and go after this one. MSN has deep pockets... that usually bring you give out in swarms!


I listened to your presentation at Les Blogs 2.O and have since then became very interested in citizen journalism. I like to draw your attention to censorship in our western world - inside Myspace, one of the most popular social networks for teenagers. Last week before Christmas Myspace.com censored all mentioning of Youtube.com and all linking to youtube videoclips. See more information on my blog here:


Myspace also shut down my myspace account for a while, I assume it was because I was critical of the censorship and the blogoshere was starting up heated discussion about this. My account was later reopened. Myspace seem to be eager to destroy all traces of this censorship and evidence that it ever took place. This is very interesting example of how powerful and invisible censorship in our western world can be and how important it is for activism not to be dependent upon the media channels you are targeting. It is not enough to have access to blog, you also have to be able to reach through the mechanism that connects the blog voices. Just image a world where technorati and del.icio.us and digg.com and google are owned by the enemy - your changes of getting message through is very weak.

Oichi Ru

Bah humbug I say !
The blogger deliberately opened an account with Microsoft to get exactly this "MICROSOFT IS CENSORING! !" reaction from the bleeding heart blogosphere.

I am sure some bleeding heart/kind soul/outraged blogocitizen/ping back whore will offer this blogger free hosting.

And I bet you all the tea in China that the blogger will not take up the offer. Why ?

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