Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Using Language To Outsmart The Censors



A short article highlights how social media is making inroads into China’s highly centralised, authoritarian political structure. The Communist Party’s biggest fear is not critical writing about corruption or political scandals, but the role of social in publicising anti-government protests.

Caught between closing the internet outright, which might reduce political protests – at least temporarily – but will be disastrous for running a modern economy, and a censorship-free internet that will push China further on the road to modernisation, but at the cost of a one-party state, Beijing is caught between a rock and a hard place.

While it employs armies of censors to troll the net to take down comments deemed offensive to the State, Chinese dissidents use the language in innovative ways to hint to something sensitive but not quite say it.

“In addition to the notorious firewall, the government can censor specific words to try and control the narrative of any given incident, by pushing their own agenda and restricting citizens’ freedom of expression. However, many online users use images, and memes in particular can portray a serious topic in a light-hearted manner, further increasing the spread of information,” writes Stephen Junor for Index on Censorship.

You can read the article here

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