New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof opened an account on Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblog service that, like Twitter, allows users to share short messages of up to 140 characters. Kristof began testing what topics would be censored. He found out quickly. Read the article in Time here:
One of his first messages was “Can we talk about Falun Gong?” — a reference to the spiritual movement banned by Beijing. Within an hour of his first post, Kristof’s account was canceled.
At first glance it would seem that China’s new Internet is a lot like its old Internet. Overseas sites that are deemed sensitive — including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, among thousands of others — are blocked, part of a network of control sometimes called the Great Firewall of China. Inside the wall, Chinese search engines won’t, for example, link to content to do with the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo or Tibetan independence; also, domestic Internet companies are required to delete any material that the authorities find objectionable. Even as China’s Netizens have rushed to embrace Web 2.0, an Internet in which users are more closely and quickly linked by social-networking services, microblogs and free video hosting, those rules have still applied.