June 4th, 2014 was the 25th anniversary of the Tienanmen Square protests/massacre in China, immortalized by the Tank Man photo. It was one of the pivotal moments in the 20th Century where, unlike other Communist regimes in Europe, the Chinese Communists were able to keep their hold on power.
The massacre is immortalized everywhere…but China, where it has been actively censored and suppressed to the point where people will literally run away before talking about it.
The Internet was supposed to kill censorship, but China has the “Great Firewall” and one of the most ambitious censorship operations in the world. I had always heard that China actively and successfully censors the Internet, but never understood exactly how it works or what it would feel like to live in a completely censored world a la 1984.
China has banned Twitter because they will not grant access to the sensors, so they have a homegrown version – Sina Weibo. It has 500 million users – including me, an American citizen living in Atlanta, GA.
Yes – unlike some Chinese sites, anyone can sign up for Weibo, granted that you agree to their terms of service (ie, the Chinese government can revise your account).
I’ve had an account for a couple years, but had never used it…mainly because Google Translate has a very hard time with Mandarin Chinese. I have 9 followers (you know the type of people who follow everyone, mixed in with a couple bots).
But on June 4th, I thought I’d do a test of China’s censors. And see exactly what happens. [Read more…]