How Censorship In China Allows Criticism But Silences Collective Organizing

censorship in chinaVia the American Political Science Review, Harvard researchers pinpoint the surprising heart of authoritarian state censorship — anti-government criticism is in fact allowed, but not references to collective action of any sort:

We have devised a system to locate, download, and analyze the content of millions of posts from nearly 1,400 different social media services all over China before the Chinese government is able to find, evaluate, and censor (i.e., remove from the Internet) the subset they deem objectionable. We compare posts censored to those not censored.

Contrary to previous understandings, posts with negative, even vitriolic, criticism of the state, its leaders, and its policies are not likely to be censored. Instead the censorship program is aimed at curtailing collective action by silencing comments that represent, reinforce, or spur social mobilization, regardless of content. Censorship is oriented toward attempting to forestall collective activities that are occurring now or may occur in the future—and, as such, seem to clearly expose government intent.


4 Comments on "How Censorship In China Allows Criticism But Silences Collective Organizing"

  1. Simon Valentine | May 31, 2013 at 12:50 pm |

    ha ha

    and the means are the same
    no matter the name
    no matter of country or citizen or fane
    what exists exists everywhere (you subject-ively xpeeryins authoritary)
    one more lying cheat of integer stare
    stereotypical chemistry haar Haar


    the idea isn’t even real
    not anymore
    nor ever was

    ‘who’ determines? ‘physiology’ determines? ‘computers’ determine? ‘science’? ‘tradition’? ‘rules’? ‘laws’?

    objectionable = ?
    censored = ?
    and the relationship between the sets = ?
    represent = ? … LoL
    reinforce = ?
    social mobilization = ?
    regardless = ?
    content = ?
    forestall = ?
    collective = ?

    pre-crime = ?

    you have no answers
    and that applied to itself
    will lead you to what you are
    not a citizen
    not of a country
    not of an idea

    not censored
    not constitutional
    not complete
    not a member
    not an outsider

  2. MoralDrift | May 31, 2013 at 7:02 pm |

    Criticism is just pressure being released, pressure that can even be harnessed and directed. Sockpuppets, wumao, whatever you want to call them they are disinfo agents (heh heh). They stoke the fire, they misdirect, they throw out strawmen and canards. It is really becoming almost an essential functions of 21st century statesmanship and will continue to become more refined and established.

    It is not isolated to China, although admittedly they are much more open to admit they practice this form of information management. This is just the next leap from big media top down management, to infiltrating the “grass-roots”, sowing seeds of dissent, discord, and mistrust.

    Look at what happened with Occupy…almost now barely a footnote, it was only allowed to go so far. The difference between China and the USA on this issue is a matter of degrees as are most of the differences. China draws the line a little closer and the US like to let these things peter themselves out. When all else fails…you simply utilize the police state…crowd dispersed.

    The bottom line from RATM

    “raise your fist and march around, just dont take what ya need”

  3. BuzzCoastin | May 31, 2013 at 8:00 pm |

    this is how it looks from the outside
    from the inside it looks a lot different

    when evaluating the situation in China
    it’s important to remember that Chinese people have a 5000 year history
    anything that can happen sociopolitically has happened
    and there is a historical president for each and
    a precedent on how to deal with it

    additionally, the western press is as duplicitous about it’s reports on China
    as it it is with reporting its own news

    given the rapid transformation that has occurred in China the last 30 years
    I’m surprised they haven’t exploded
    but they are determined to make an exact copy of Der Homeland
    warts & all
    and they won’t quit till there done

    • kowalityjesus | Jun 1, 2013 at 10:09 am |

      my distinct impression when they removed the “friends” feature from Youtube , to be replaced by only “subscriptions,” was that it is FAR to easy to ascertain politically aligned komrades when people are organizing symbiotically based on their interest in content. Email lists, subsequently political movements were lurking inside that powder keg. I was rather disappointed in the conspiracy community for not even mentioning the fractionalizing nature of that move. Only* left are nut sites (e.g. ATS, disinfo) and reddit for creative interaction, and they are geared toward criticism but not organized opposition, a la China. * I know this is ignorant, but not from my framework.

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