Censorship and the Great Firewall of China


Social media has become such an important part in our daily lives. We use it to keep in contact with one another and it allows us to have a voice to speak what we believe. While we may use it to keep in contact with our friends, family etc. we also unknowingly use it to keep in contact with the rest of the world. I know personally that my Instagram feed is contained of primarily international posts. One thing I have noticed though since researching this topic is that the amount of Chinese content I receive as very minimal, and this is why…

The Ministry of Public Security (MPS) set up the Golden Shield project in Mainland China, also known as the Great Firewall of China. This basically meant that Mainland China had very limited access to Internet sites. All social media networks were censored and thus why the Chinese can’t use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The government wanted to make sure they had a hold on all information travelling in and out of China. As Facebook, Twitter etc. are American owned; the Chinese government couldn’t keep an eye on all conversations. There are many forbidden keywords and websites that are filtered by tens of thousands of employee’s everyday and then filtered again by sophisticated software (D’Jaen, 2008). Many subjects that have been censored are primarily related to the government and those specifically talking negatively about the government. Many search words have been blocked including ‘Tibet’, ‘Taiwan China’, ‘equality’, ‘democracy China’ and ‘freedom China’ (Zittrain and Edelman, 2003).


Because of all of this, China decided to create their own social media networks. QZone is the most popular social network site in China. It is a mix of blogging, watching videos, listening to music and sending photos. It has over 712 million users in total (Heggestuen, 2013). The second favourite platform is Weibo, which is like a mix of Facebook and Twitter. Whilst there is freedom in having their own social platforms they are still heavily regulated by the Chinese government (Riley, 2014). Those who wish to use Western social platforms are able to illegally access them by using proxy servers or virtual private networks (VPNs). Charlie Osborn (2015) of ZDNet says, “critics argue that online filtering is not only hampering the general public but is stifling the innovation needed to revive the Chinese economy”. The censorship of the Internet on the Chinese public is damaging their freedom of speech and human rights.


D‘Jaen, M. D. 2008, ‘Breaching the Great Firewall of China: Congress Overreaches in Attacking Chinese Internet Censorship’, Seattle University Law Review, 31(2), 327, viewed on 21st March 2015,

Heggestuen, J 2013, Confused By China’s Social Networks? Here’s A Simple Infographic Showing Their US-Based Equivalents, Business Insider Australia, viewed on 21st March 2015, <http://www.businessinsider.com.au/a-quick-guide-to-chinas-social-networks-2013-10>

Osborne, C 2015, China revamps Great Firewall, cracks down on social media, ZDNet, viewed on 21st March 2015, <http://www.zdnet.com/article/china-revamps-great-firewall-cracks-down-on-social-media/>

Zittrain, J, Edelman, B 2003, Empirical Analysis of Internet Filtering in China, Harvard University, viewed on the 21st March 2015, <http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/filtering/china/>Role

2 thoughts on “Censorship and the Great Firewall of China

  1. I love the use of the picture at the top of the blog post, very eye catching. However, one thing I would like to point out is that the graph you have used is very hard to read. It almost seems as though it is blurry. Apart from that though, the blog post was great! I loved reading it, good job.

  2. Nice variety of references! Despite knowing of China’s internet censorship, it wasn’t until you mentioned Chinese absence on “our” social media feeds that I realised how little information I actually receive about the daily lives of Chinese citizens. Quite fascinating. Have you read about the use of coded language on Chinese social media? It’s a way for citizens to sort of counter the censorship by using “nicknames” for certain people/things, for instance. Controversial, but nonetheless interesting. Your piece was great, thanks for your insight!

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