From ‘rice bunny’ to ‘back up the car’: China’s year of censorship

Online freedom has come under sustained assault from Beijing in 2018, with references to Xi Jinping’s new powers among the prohibited phrases

The Guardian
Date: 30 Dec 2018
By: Lily Kuo

Social media companies have helped the internet crackdown, promising to police ‘harmful information’. Illustration: Getty/Guardian Design Team
China stepped up its campaign in 2018 to control what news and information its citizens can see.

While censors continued heavyhanded control for any content deemed dangerous for social stability, including Peppa Pig videos and the letter “n”, regulators also deployed more sophisticated methods, going beyond Chinese social media and working harder to curate and shape what Chinese residents consume.

Authorities have been forcing activists on Twitter to delete their accountsand shutting down the social media accounts of university professors. Apolitical content is coming under more scrutiny. In October, almost 10,000 social media accounts for outlets publishing entertainment and celebrity news were closed.

The country’s largest internet companies have also stepped up self-censorship. The messaging platform WeChat issued a statement in November, promising to step up its policing of “politically harmful information” while in April, the boss of Jinri Toutiao, a content aggregator, issued a public apology more similar to self-criticisms in Mao Zedong’s era.    [FULL  STORY]