At Global Voices, Oiwan Lam presents translated highlights from a recent 37-minute conversation between "Teacher Li Is Not Your Teacher," known on X/Twitter as @whyyoutouzhele, and "Blowfish Princess" (河豚公主, Hétún gōngzhǔ), a censorship worker at a major Chinese social media platform. Lam’s highlights cover censorship processes and criteria, Blowfish Princess’ advice to users on how to avoid censorship by exuding "positive energy," and disaffection among her colleagues:
[… W]e need to read information circulating among overseas dissidents, and we need to know what the homonyms and coded terms are. Among my colleagues, I don’t think they liked the job, and they disagreed with such kind of censorship practice.
Let me put it this way: I was trapped at home during the pandemic last year, but I was supporting the government’s zero-COVID policy and lockdown while I couldn’t even step out of my door… The work was evil, very dark… it’s very likely I will change my job soon, and give up this censorship work.
[…] I wish this censorship system would be abandoned soon. I hate this sector, it’s so painful working here. But I can’t shift to another sector right now, that’s why I keep on learning whenever I have free time so that I can leave this hell… I am not condemning anyone; I just hope that people can have a bit more open environment for free expression. The current system is way too much. [Source]
For more information on the workings of censorship in China, and a historical perspective on how censorship has evolved over the years, the following CDT posts may be of interest:
- A translation of journalists’ reflections on the "total censorship era" from 2018
- Our long-running translations of leaked censorship and propaganda directives, particularly a dense series of daily instructions from the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020
- a Feminist writer’s reflections on the "bombing" of her WeChat account, from 2020
- A crowdsourced compilation of the various error messages triggered by censorship on Weibo, from 2021
- Analysis of the removal of 30 from Douban’s discussion and rating site, also from 2021
- Wei Zhou’s letter to readers explaining why their comments are deleted from his WeChat blog, from 2022
- Translation of a leaked document explaining censorship of "sudden incidents" on social media site Xiaohongshu, also from 2022
- A comedian’s account of internal studio processes and subsequent formal censorship review by authorities
- Details of how Qihoo 360 censors its generative AI chatbot, also from 2023
- Numerous accounts of the "tea-drinking" police visits or summons which provide "real-world" reinforcement for online censorship