Washington Post blogger Max Fisher discusses the personal struggles of a Chinese web censor, and how the censor’s arguments could make perfect sense in the Chinese media context. ~ Mike
Posted by Max Fisher on January 9, 2013 at 6:00 am
This is Weibo, interrupted. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)
Spare a moment for the Chinese censor, stuck between a Communist Party that demands strict control and a few million Web users who increasingly expect the ability to speak their minds online.
As controversy over a censored newspaper grows into one of China’s biggest and potentially most significant free-speech fights in years, party officials are likely seeking greater control at exactly the moment that outraged Web users are making that task most difficult. At least one censor on Weibo, the popular Twitter-like service that often serves as the closest China has to a public national conversation, seems to have snapped.
A rant was posted from a Weibo account belonging to @Geniune_Yu_Yang, which is identified as belonging to a Weibo manager, about the pressure from government officials and complaints from regular users. To be clear, he’s not a state employee: Weibo self-censors, employing folks like @Geniune_Yu_Yang to implement the party’s ever-evolving guidelines on what is and isn’t allowed.
The message, translated into English by Global Voices blogger Oiwan Lam, indirectly explains the mechanics of Weibo censorship. He compares Chinese government censorship to a famous scene in the 1988 Italian film “Cinema Paradiso,” in which a priest watches a movie before it can be shown in public, ringing a small bell to indicate scenes that the theater staff should censor. [Read the full article here]