China might have the most sophisticated system to censor the internet, they can only till a certain degree mold the information internet users are getting, writes internet analyst Maria Korolov in Internet Evolution.
Meanwhile, even at censorship rates of 90 percent, it means that 10 percent of those sensitive posts are getting through — and with large numbers of people reposting and forwarding these reports, news can spread quickly despite all government attempts to control it.
For example, in October, The New York Times ran a story on how the relatives of the prime minister of China were very rich — to the tune of $2.7 billion rich.
The prime minister’s mother, for example, who was born in abject poverty, had $120 million in the bank. It was a big, embarrassing story — and was immediately blocked in China. But not before China’s social media users and bloggers got wind of it, and went to town. The information spread across the country in minutes, even as censors scurried to keep up.
The thing is, it’s really simple to convey information while avoiding key words. “You know that guy who runs everything? Him? His mother is now sooo rich…” Do you censor “guy”? “Mother”? The censors actually have to read everything.
To censor effectively, you’d need a censor per person, reading everything they write, and looking for hidden meanings.
So it makes sense that the censors prioritize, and focus on the stuff that’s likely to cause the most turmoil or embarrassment.
Maria Korolov is speaker and COO of the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request.