On May 21, Sina Weibo certified user @WangGongquan changed his profile picture to two white characters reading “citizen” on a blue background, quickly attracting a high volume of responses:
WangGuoquan: From today on, I’m changing my profile picture to the two characters “citizen.” These characters were written by Sun Yat-sen and are from a sample of his calligraphy, of which a friend made a rubbing.
王功权 ： 从今天起，把头像换成＂公民＂二字了。这两个字是孙中山书写的，是朋友从孙中山手书样本上拓下来的
On the evening of May 31, a large group of Weibo users using this as their profile picture suddenly found the image had been removed. @WangGongquan and other netizens called this a “mass beheading.” @WangGuoquan’s post about the phone call he made to Sina Weibo management was also deleted:
WangGongquan: When I called you you said the “higher-ups” made you delete my citizen profile picture. You said “it seems there was something not in compliance.” I asked which higher-ups, what department, which person said it was not in compliance? You just hemmed and hawed and said you’ll respond when you understand the situation. You’ve all received a high level of education. What are the two characters “citizen” not in compliance with? They make you delete a profile picture and you delete it. You recklessly injure users like this and is there any limit to your behavior?
王 功权：你们电话回答我说是＂上边＂让你们把我公民二字头像删掉的，说＂好像有什么不符＂，我问是哪个上边什么部门哪个人说不符的？你们便吱吱唔唔，说帮助 了解一下情况再答复。你们受过高等教育，公民二字头像不符合什么了？他们让你删除用户头像你就删，你这样乱伤用户还能有个头儿吗？
@LaoguSays commented on the incident:
LaoguSays: @WangGongquan: Ha! In the first group of “citizens” there were about 200 people on Sina Weibo whose profile pictures were illegally hacked and deleted by the government’s Internet Management Department (should we call them the Web Traitors?). It was a mass beheading, the martyring of heroes. The white characters “citizen” on a blue background has just been prohibited.
WangGongquan: The national Internet Management Department at Sina has beheaded its “citizen” users!
Ailsa_su: There’s a profile picture on Sina Weibo that you can’t use. Use it once and you’re blocked. This profile picture is “citizen.” What makes a funny comparison is that you can use a profile picture that reads, “Get verified status and 1000 fans for only X yuan!” [This is a common spam image on Sina Weibo.] @WangGongquan
DebangLaosan: Oversensitivity to this point, they really don’t have a mote of confidence! What’s the meaning of a little profile picture?
Killbilldoller1: I’ve been reincarnated [i.e. account was suspended]. If you’re so afraid of us becoming citizens, are you not ashamed to call this a republic? Just be more direct and call it the Slave Empire of China.
Youyi: No wonder I suddenly saw so many headless users ooze out of Weibo.
YYRushishuo: #MicroIdea All I want to know is, why have the white characters “citizen” against the blue background been deleted for absolutely no reason? If they can do virtual beheadings today, what about tomorrow?
ThisAge-1984: Citizen profile pictures are beheaded on Sina. It’s June 1, 2012.
FoolsPassage: Change you profile picture and support Mr. @WangGongquan. Give me back my citizen!
WangruiV6: Sina, give me my head back!!!! The heart of the imposing Celestial Empire suddenly fears a common citizen’s profile picture. What’s sadder is it doesn’t examine itself, but only thinks of censoring, locking up, tearing down and blocking up. You go ahead and keep it up. I only want to give you a few words: water can both float a boat and capsize it. Take care of yourself. It isn’t too late to repent!
-Lishen-: Sina will even forcefully remove someone’s profile picture if says “citizen.” Whichever dog f*cker came up with this, if you are a person, then stand up. Don’t pull your head in like a turtle.
HalfCupSettingSun: My profile picture was the two characters “citizen” written by Sun Yat-sen. Sina went and erased it. It’s actually really funny if you think about it. These two characters have become sensitive porcelain. Any hint of titillation and it’s forbidden.
半盏夕阳：我的头像用的是孙中山手书“公民”二字，新浪给我弄没了。 其实想想挺搞笑的 公民俩字都成敏感瓷了 意淫一下都不让
LaonafahaoDengguo: My profile picture has been river crabbed. My final right as a citizen has been taken away.
LiuHouboWeibo: @WangGongquan Because your profile picture said “citizen,” it was deleted. Please tell me, when did citizen become a sensitive word? Will “the people” also become a sensitive word? In the end, what will People’s Daily Online become? The Servants Daily Online?
刘俊博的微博：@王功权 因头像使用公民两个字，被强制删除头像。请问什么时候继 公民 成为敏感词之后，人民也成为敏感词？到时候人民网将改名成什么网？臣民网？
CitizenVoiceNotOne: Shit! I look away for a second and my citizen profile picture is nowhere to be seen! What policy has this violated? You assholes!
Ierer: Today the name on my Sina Weibo account suddenly changed. It made me feel really strange. For a while I thought my account had been stolen, but this actually wasn’t the case. It was because I used the two characters “citizen” written by Mr. Yat-sen. I, a nobody, became the subject of Sina’s restrictions.
“Netizen Voices” is an original CDT series. If you would like to reuse this content, please follow the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 agreement.