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November 29, 2008


Helge Ogrim

Very interesting, impressive and important, Rebecca! Any chanse you might do a voiceover on the slideshow? Then it could serve as an introduction to the issues for a much broader audience, I believe.


Your blog is blocked, for one.

Keso wrote about the CENSORSHIP being the largest CUSTOMER of all ISPs, including all BSPs:


From my personal exprience, what Keso said is very true. Don't even think any BSP would respect your BLOGGING RIGHT once they are being asked to take something down or else.

Donald Clarke

As you note, academic publishing takes a long time. I hope you'll upload your finished paper to the Social Science Research Network (www.ssrn.com) pending publication.


Great post, sounds like a fascinating project. one thing that I was thinking of as I read the post and looked through the slides was ordering some of the censorship by type.

It seems like there is a range from automated filtering (if there is a keyword match in the title/body, the entry cannot be posted (or the keywords are starred out) to manual deletion (where entries are looked at by a human and approved before they are publicly posted, or are outright deleted, sometimes at a later time). It would be nice to see a breakdown of the types.

I'm also wonder about the TCP resets. it might be nice to geolocate the IP's that one connects to when making a post. My guess is that the ones displaying the tcp resets are hosted outside of China indicating that the "firewall" could be adding yet another layer to blog censorship.


Rebecca MacKinnon

Thanks Nart! Insightful thoughts as always. Yes there is definitely a range of automated and human methods as you say. Oftentimes it also seems like there's a combination - something is flagged by keyword then confirmed by a human. Other cases are hard to tell whether a human was involved or not without getting confirmation from the companies. I should be able to break it down a bit for the paper - though in some cases not conclusively.

Yes the one blog host displaying TCP reset appears to be hosting outside China.. However, interestingly, the same content posted on some other blogs does not trigger the GFW.. so it's something the company itself is doing.

Kevin Donovan

Today's NYT article on Google censorship (http://tinyurl.com/54svs7) gives some further insight into the types of censorship, especially the role that the community has - Google will make human decisions about material flagged as inappropriate. Saudi Arabia's state censors are doing a similar thing: http://techdirt.com/articles/20081116/1953102841.shtml

Also, on the topic of "user rights" I think there is much to be done. See the story of Michelle Malkin in the above NYT link. Even when Google notifies that results have been censored or videos removed, it lacks the granularity it could. For example, what law was violated? What term of service was violated? Who, specifically, complained?


hi, I googled your article through the key word, censorship in China. It's a good topic. If possible. could you email one copy of your masterpiece to my mailbox? Thank you.


Great observations. I'm thinking maybe this has also something to do with advertising? Like certain companies being paid to blocked? Or is that illegal?


Rebecca MacKinnon's empirical research on Chinese Blog Service Providers' censorship pattern is arguably the first systematic attempt to map what I call "special speech zones"(SSZs). By special speech zones I mean areas (virtual or physical) set aside by authorities or hosts where certain speech is allowed or disallowed. While MacKinnon aims to map out which content items are allowed or disallowed in which major Chinese blog hosting sites, she has in effect initiated a "cat-chase-mouse" game of exposing the special speech zones.

Sujan Patricia

The Chinese Media make great efforts to censor information and control the communication of it’s people.

Chinese language translations of the Obama's speech are being censored to remove the ‘offending’ passages, and no mention of these passages has been made in newspapers or on TV.

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