Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
China Technology

What Can't You Say On China's Social Networks? 130

Posted by timothy
from the don't-even-go-there-nu-pengyou dept.
An anonymous reader writes "China's 450 million Internet users have taken to social networks in a big way. But these social networking sites, founded on the promise of free expression, have an uneasy existence under an authoritarian regime that punishes certain kinds of expression. This article from IEEE Spectrum tells the story of Sina Weibo, the white-hot social networking phenomenon that has taken over China in the past few years. Citizens have used the microblogging service to protest and rebel — but the Chinese government is getting more sophisticated in its handling of these online grumblings. Side note: an English-language version of Sina Weibo is reportedly on the way. Wonder if it will take off in the US?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

What Can't You Say On China's Social Networks?

Comments Filter:
  • by cgeys (2240696) on Friday June 10, 2011 @03:38AM (#36397602)
    United States's 200 million Internet users have taken to internets in a big way. But these internets, founded on the promise of free expression, have an uneasy existence under an authoritarian regime that punishes certain kinds of expression. This comment tells the story of the series of tubes, the hot social networking phenomenon that has taken over the world in the past few years. Citizens have used the internets to protest, to rebel and to share knowledge — but the US government is getting more sophisticated in its handling of these online grumblings.

    Not allowed is, for example:
    - Online gambling
    - "Obscene" or violent porn, even if only acted
    - Ordering cheaper medical drugs from other countries
    - Ordering pot or drugs
    - Sharing knowledge if it's copyrighted
    - Sharing entertainment if it's copyrighted
    - Revealing wrongdoing within US government (Wikileaks)
    - Posting knowledge of how to make bombs or certain other technical information
    - Implementing your application or website in a certain way if it's software patented
    - Anything else that hurts the business of Big Money Intangible Industries (Pharma, RIAA, MPAA, BSA)
    • You know the main difference between Freedom of Speech and Totalitarian Censorship? If you put up blog post saying "I hate Obama, I wish he was dead!", you get nothing in the US. If you put up a blog post saying "I'm fed up with communism, let's move to something else! Oh yeah, and the Politburo should just up and die!", men in a black Volga will visit you sooner than you can say "Who's that knocking on the door so late at night?".

      • by Anonymous Coward

        If you put up blog post saying "I hate Obama, I wish he was dead!", you get nothing in the US.

        You'd get a visit from the secret service.

      • by rainmouse (1784278) on Friday June 10, 2011 @04:18AM (#36397732)

        If you put up a blog post saying "I'm fed up with communism, let's move to something else! Oh yeah, and the Politburo should just up and die!", men in a black Volga will visit you sooner than you can say "Who's that knocking on the door so late at night?".

        And that is exactly why you should fight the removal of every little freedom, unless of course you want to finally end up like that. Playing the ''its much worse elsewhere so its OK for them to screw us over a little bit more each day'' card wont fly unless you are fine with the idea that people in the West are already arrested and jailed for the transfer of information.

        • Oh please, there's no such thing as a 'slippery slope'. Not since the Constitution of the US. and the Declaration of Independence established your right to rebel should your government lose track of its objectives. The slope continues as long as you let it continue.
          Besides, at least 50% of GP's examples are rightfully illegal: would you like to take your chances with poisoned Tylenol [wikipedia.org] you ordered from a Korean online pharmacy?

          • by funkatron (912521)

            Oh please, there's no such thing as a 'slippery slope'. Not since the Constitution of the US. and the Declaration of Independence established your right to rebel should your government lose track of its objectives. The slope continues as long as you let it continue.

            You do know that the constitution can be amended? And that some pretty stupid stuff [wikimedia.org] has been amended onto it before now. I know it's unlikely but it's not impossible for your rights to be removed.

          • would you like to take your chances with poisoned Tylenol [wikipedia.org] you ordered from a Korean online pharmacy?

            No, but I would fight to retain the right to make that choice for myself.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Serpents (1831432)

            Oh please, there's no such thing as a 'slippery slope'. Not since the Constitution of the US. and the Declaration of Independence established your right to rebel should your government lose track of its objectives.

            So why don't I see anyone rebel when the TSA get more and more rights? When FBI can search people's homes and tap their phones without a warrant? When they introduce something like "precrime prolonged detention"? It does not matter what rights you have if you're too stupid/lazy/indifferent/scared to use them. There are no protesters in the streets, no one throws bricks at the cops and every time the government comes up with such bright ideas I hear the crowd repeat after them : "You don't have to be afraid

            • Is your own complacency the government's fault, then? Is it your fault that the frog won't notice the gradual change? If you want to blame someone, blame yourselves!

            • anyone

              I think the We Won't Fly members will take offense on that.

              • by Serpents (1831432)
                You want to see protests? Look at Egypt or Libya - that's what you do when your government forgets whom they should serve
                • This is America, buddy. The only thing we get worked up about enough to actually get off of our asses for is when Starbucks raises the price of a nonfat mochaccinolatte with soy milk.

                  As a culture, we've become both incredibly lazy and willfully ignorant. Not all of us, and obviously nobody feels that THEY are one of the idiots, but as a whole we're a long way from taking to the streets and rolling cop cars yet, and that's reflected in all of the laws we've seen fly through the legislature regarding the er

                  • by Serpents (1831432)

                    This is America, buddy. The only thing we get worked up about enough to actually get off of our asses for is when Starbucks raises the price of a nonfat mochaccinolatte with soy milk.

                    Actually as someone born and raised in the former Eastern Block I feel sorry watching "The Land of the Free" slowly turning into a totalitarian regime. Believe it or not but that's how it starts - slowly, and then one day you wake up and you need a pass to travel from one city to another, you need to carry and ID with your address, address of the employer, SSN, names of both parents, your spouse and children and that's only the beginning. Wake up already guys! I'd hate to see you go down that way...

            • by wisty (1335733)

              If you don't like it, you are free to complain. And write blog posts. And vote for someone who also objects. And you can even run for parliament.

              The thing is, most people are somewhat apathetic about this issue. I guess every system sucks compared to the one where you are the dictator.

              Now, there are things that could be done to reform democracy. Preferential run-off voting (which encourages voting for minor parties) and compulsory voting (which forces people who aren't crusted-on ideologues from voting); bu

          • by LordLucless (582312) on Friday June 10, 2011 @05:49AM (#36398126)

            Yeah, because dirt foreign drugs are all going to be poisoned, am I right? It should only be the big corporations allowed to exploit free trade to save money, not good little consumers. Besides, based on your wikipedia link, buying Tylenol in Chicago should be outlawed, not Korea.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Oh please, there's no such thing as a 'slippery slope'. Not since the Constitution of the US. and the Declaration of Independence established your right to rebel should your government lose track of its objectives.

            And in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China:

            Article 2. All power in the People's Republic of China belongs to the people.

            Article 35. Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.

            Article 37. The freedom of person of citizens of the People's Republic of China is inviolable. No citizen may be arrested except with the approval or by decision of a people's procuratorate or by decision of a people's court, and arrests must be made by a public security organ. [...]

            Whatever rights established in the constitution are irrelevant if you can't actually use it.

          • by N0Man74 (1620447)

            Oh please, there's no such thing as a 'slippery slope'. Not since the Constitution of the US. and the Declaration of Independence established your right to rebel should your government lose track of its objectives.

            Yes, and this right to rebel was firmly upheld when the South rebelled and became the Confederate States of America, which still exists today.

            The Constitution, it just works.

      • by Zorpheus (857617)
        "I wish he was dead" might be seen as incitement to murder in some Western countries, which would get you into jail.
      • “Fascism is, shut your mouth; Democracy is, talk all you want..."
      • by mlush (620447)

        Your US blog post is an punishable by five years in prison [wikipedia.org] or perhaps even more [foxnews.com]

        You'll probably get away with this case as you need to post it "willfully" but I'd be more careful in future.

      • by rolfwind (528248)

        You know the main difference between Freedom of Speech and Totalitarian Censorship? If you put up blog post saying "I hate Obama, I wish he was dead!", you get nothing in the US. If you put up a blog post saying "I'm fed up with communism, let's move to something else! Oh yeah, and the Politburo should just up and die!", men in a black Volga will visit you sooner than you can say "Who's that knocking on the door so late at night?".

        If you said that about Obama, you might get a visit from the Secret Service.

        A

        • Try making real change instead of just bitching, and you may see how far your freedom stretches.

          Dare I suggest making a change through legal channels? You know, by running for a political position, with a proper and creative program that changes things for the better? Or maybe you can't actually think that far?
          And don't give me any bullshit about connections and money! If you have the ideas and the charisma, you can find funding and contacts to get the word out there and raise money for a campaign, etc.

          Oh, and just read about swat teams. If you don't think the Stasi exist in America, read about this:
          http://newsone.com/nation/casey-gane-mccalla/arizona-swat-team-kills-marine-in-botched-raid/ [newsone.com]

          Clearly you have no idea just what the STASI did and who they were: undercover agents, extensive inf

          • by sjames (1099)

            I am having a hard time knowing if you're trolling or just extremely misguided. The man was shot in his own home by a band of thugs that kicked in his door. Unlike the so-called police, he waited to verify his target before firing. In a just world, he would have cut them all down with a machine gun and it would be found justifiable.

            In the U.S. we have the castle doctrine which clearly grants him the right to defend his home and family and places the duty to retreat upon the intruder. Since they failed to an

      • by superwiz (655733)
        On the plus side, you'd find out that there are still operational black Volgas.
      • Excerpts from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threatening_the_President_of_the_United_States [wikipedia.org]

        Threatening the President of the United States is a class D felony under United States Code Title 18, Section 871. It consists of knowingly and willfully mailing or otherwise making "any threat to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States". The United States Secret Service investigates suspected violations of this law and monitors those who have a history of threaten

        • I still fail to see how a wish, without expressed intent to follow up, would be considered a threat...

          Wilson is a wooden-headed son of a bitch. I wish Wilson was in hell, and if I had the power I would put him there.

          This is a threat, I'll grant you that, even if a rather weak one.

          hang [President] Roosevelt

          This is a threat.

          I hate Obama and I wish he was dead

          This is not a threat, it contains no "declaration of apparent determination to carry them into execution". Unless, of course, I have a magic wish-granting stone or I make a donation to the wishing well...

    • by dintech (998802)

      It's true, we as westerners spend so long trumpeting our 'rights' that we fail to notice all the things we aren't allowed to have.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      - Online gambling - More or less gambling of most any sort...otherwise online poker sites wouldn't have to set up shop in the Isle of Man to begin with, this isn't an internet issue.

      - "Obscene" or violent porn, even if only acted - [citation needed]

      - Ordering cheaper medical drugs from other countries - Import laws apply here, not necessarily internet related (the 'net only makes it a bit easier)

      - Ordering pot or drugs - Laws against well predate a prevalent internet

      - Sharing knowledge if it's c
      • by maxume (22995)

        Max Hardcore is in jail for obscenity.

        That some of the freedoms are impinged off the internet doesn't make it any better that they are abused on the internet.

        Also, the U.S. Government piracy domain seizures cracked down on lots of people that simply weren't doing anything.

    • by debruce (63857)

      I posted a URL-shorted link to Gawker's infamous Weiner 'c*ck shot' headline - mysteriously disappeared from my timeline. I thought maybe it was a glitch but I saw it in Tweetdeck timeline, so apparently it went out, and was subsequently 'disappeared.' Seems to be a lot you can't talk about.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by poity (465672)

      Firstly, none of what you've listed can be considered political censorship, with the exception of possibly wikileaks. Even with wikileaks, no civilian has been arrested in connection with helping the organization, even though its list of donors has been made public.

      Secondly, however opposed we both may be to some of the examples of censorship you've listed, every one of the violations is outlined in US law and defined rather clearly. Censorship is a capricious thing in China, where the law is ambiguous -- "

    • by Khashishi (775369)

      A fair comparison between US and China will cover the issue of degree. Both US and China censor things, but China censors more things and enforces the censorship more strongly. To say censorship is censorship is to make an absolutist statement.

  • Difference? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by headkase (533448) on Friday June 10, 2011 @04:13AM (#36397706)
    In China they arrest you for content, in the USA they just ignore you. You have equal effect in both but more freedom to mouth off in one.
  • All the chinese people can still read this story after all the comments done say "Yeah!!!".
  • Don't trust any goverment ever.They lied to people.
  • ...'caus I think I just heard someone say "Sina Weeaboo"!

    We-i-Bo! We-i-Bo! [wordpress.com]
  • The other factor harmonizing online discourse in China, on Slashdot, and around the world is the Wmáo Dng. If you don't think you're being harmonized here, you are truly naive.
  • As a member of the largest Chinese social networking site, I'd like to share a couple of observations. The first is that I regularly see comments that are critical of the Chinese government and those comments do not mysteriously disappear after being posted. During the recent anniversary of the Tienanmen Square massacre, many photos of the "tank man" and other protesters were posted and not removed. Secondly, my "friends" in the network have never expressed any fear regarding what they can or can't post. It
    • As a member of the largest Chinese social networking site, I'd like to share a couple of observations. The first is that I regularly see comments that are critical of the Chinese government and those comments do not mysteriously disappear after being posted. During the recent anniversary of the Tienanmen Square massacre, many photos of the "tank man" and other protesters were posted and not removed. Secondly, my "friends" in the network have never expressed any fear regarding what they can or can't post. It really seems to be a non-issue to them, which was surprising to me when I initially joined. I know that censorship and oppression are very real issues in China and I'm not trying to downplay them but my personal experiences indicate that the problem may be slightly blown out of proportion by certain...interests. Just sayin'.

      SnowHog, you write from a truly open minded POV and it is great to see that you are able to identify what is wrong with the oppression and censorship you are living under, but I have to say it is probably harder for you to know what it is you are discussing while you are inside.

      You seem to point to the fact that your personal experience in seeing some images and posts that are NOT taken down reflect that there is a perception problem with the people outside the sphere of influence of your governments rest

      • by SnowHog (1944314)
        Interesting points. Just to clarify, I am not Chinese and I do not live in China. I joined a Chinese social network because most of my classmates are Chinese and I am learning Mandarin.
        • Interesting points. Just to clarify, I am not Chinese and I do not live in China. I joined a Chinese social network because most of my classmates are Chinese and I am learning Mandarin.

          Thanks for the clarification - my points stand regardless of whether or not you are Chinese, you seem to have a booster mentality toward the government and the censorship culture that is allowed to continue because of people like you downplaying it.

          • by SnowHog (1944314)
            Actually, your point completely collapses since it was based on the false premise that I don't understand the issue because I'm "inside" living under the oppression. Have you ever even visited China?
            • Actually, your point completely collapses since it was based on the false premise that I don't understand the issue because I'm "inside" living under the oppression. Have you ever even visited China?

              Yes I have been around the world for work and personal reasons. I have co-workers and employees in China. I know oppression when I see it. I can also spot a sympathizer a mile away. My point is valid. Your points have become illuminated and I imagine you feel anger toward me for foiling your little plot to assuage any negativity toward your beloved Party Leaders.

  • look, folks: i can sit here, and criticize barack obama and his policies and the democratic party, all i want, here in the usa

    i can't threaten his life though

    ok, right there, that limitation: what does that mean? does it mean that because there are SOME limits on my freedom of expression, that that is logically equivalent to ANY limit on my expression?

    "i can't threaten the president's life. therefore, i live in tyranny, and that limitation is equivalent to ANY limits on my expression, such as a limit on my right to criticize political ideologies"

    is that a valid logical statement in your eyes?

    no? then why don't you see that all the limits some of you have listed in this thread on your freedom of expression in the west is also NOT equivalent to what china does?

    what you are doing, frankly, is showing hamfisted ignorance on your part. you reveal your own crude, uneducated way of looking at the concept of your freedom and your rights

    some intellectual charity for you: in every society that ever existed, currently exists, and always will exist, limits will be placed on what you can say or do. because some people say and do things that are CRIMES. now, you may not agree with classifying some behaviors as crimes that currently your society stands against. which is fine. you can say "this behavior XYZ is not criminal, my society is wrong for saying that behavior XYZ is criminal." it is 100% legitimate for you say that

    what is NOT legitimate for you to say is "because society places some limits on some behaviors, this is equivalent to society limiting ANY behavior, it's all the same. " no, it is NOT all the same. each behavior is DIFFERENT, and must be evaluated DIFFERENTLY, and some behaviors are PERFECTLY VALID subjects for limitation. do you understand that? please understand there will ALWAYS be some behavior that society classifies as crimes. you need to make peace with that fact, because that fact is never going away

    to wit: just because a society classifies some expression as crime does not mean that it is equivalent to another society that classifies SIMPLE POLITICAL EXPRESSION as a crime. THAT'S the problem with china, and it is a valid criticism, a criticism that is NOT nullified, because the usa goes after kiddie porn. really

    that's really the truth. please understand that engaging in false equivalencies only makes you look like a fool who doesn't understand what freedom of expression really is, and how it exists in natural philosophical tension with other fundamental freedoms in this world, with or without any government policies in play. grow up, develop a more sophisticated and nuanced way of looking at your world. because some of you right now look like idiots engaged in subject matter you simply do not understand

    • by Anonymous Coward

      blah blah blah I'm smarter than you blah blah blah

      Are you done?

      • If the words are too long for you, look them up in a dictionary.
        So yes, he is smarter than you.

    • Your points are understood, but the other people's argument is not that there isn't any freedom because of the example limitations but that it is slippery slop that more and more limitations, which they think should not have existed, be imposed on them by force more powerful than them. That can be a valid point given all that have been happening.

      There is no way that all people agree on what should be classified as restricted and what should not be.

      Like there are still huge number of poor people in China and

      • examples of slippery slopes:

        "if gay marriage is legalized, people will marry goats, children, corpses, etc. therefore, gay marriage should be illegal"

        "you can't smoke marijuana because marijuana is a gateway drug where the user inevitably slips into cocaine, heroin, meth, etc. therefore, marijuana should be illegal"

        "premarital sex is wrong because it inevitably leads to orgies, pornography, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, etc. therefore, premarital sex should be outlawed"

        etc.

        slippery sl

        • Slipper slop may not be logical but is real, unfortunately. We are dealing with human beings and not math. You may find people using pot have indeed higher probability to use meth as well. Or you could say slippery slop is indeed logical because human nature will tend to abuse one's own power or continuously going a step further than already taken, just like gravity will inevitably pull the cars down on a slippery slop. I don't like, probably nobody like, the rules made to guard against slippery slop but th

          • the slippery slope is not real. it really isn't. it's a fear, a hysteria, on your part, not on the part of reality

            for example: you should stop commenting here on slashdot. because some hackers also comment on slashdot. therefore, since some commentors on slashdot are also hackers, then you have an association that proves that compared to the general population, commenting on slashdot gives you a higher probabilty that you will hack a computer system. ergo: commenting on slashdot is an unstoppable slide to h

    • by roman_mir (125474)

      if somebody wanted to do something to that pawn, why would he/she be announcing this ahead of time on a site? However if they outlaw thoughts of that nature, then only the outlaws will have those thoughts.

      • barack obama is not a pawn. if you think he is, this reveals more about your cognitive deficiencies in thinking about how the world works, than how the world actually works

        • by roman_mir (125474)

          oh boy, more of you, ha? I think you should step away from the computer and go have some fresh air.

          • hey, asshole: you responded to my top level comment. you don't have to talk to me if you don't reply to my comments. do us both a favor and please avoid my comments from now on. thanks

            • by roman_mir (125474)

              true, didn't notice your pathetic handle there. You do need some fresh air though.

              • you need to stop responding to my comments, asshole

                (of course, you will reply, you can't help being the asshole that is you)

                • by roman_mir (125474)

                  What I understand about you, is that you like being a populist, you like the crowd that it gathers, like any old narcissist, you like being center of attention and to be the 'speaker of the people'. It is clear though, that underneath that cover there is a control freak, that would not hesitate, if given the opportunity, to turn the opposition into dust, I bet you'd have your own Gitmo to throw anybody you do not personally approve of into. Your kind is in power in socialist states, that's certain.

                  Anyway,

Put your Nose to the Grindstone! -- Amalgamated Plastic Surgeons and Toolmakers, Ltd.

Working...