There are a ton of articles out there about the discovery over the past few days that Microsoft seems to be banning certain words from their blogs in China. The words aren't that surprising, knowing how the Chinese government views certain things. Freedom, democracy, Taiwan independence and human rights are all banned... sort of. The details show that these words appear to only be banned in the subject lines of MSN China blog postings. Microsoft has admitted that they're doing this, but the spokesperson wouldn't reveal the full list of "banned" words. The explanation given is that MSN tries to conform to all local laws, something they've had difficulty with in the past. Of course, beyond the ridiculousness of trying to ban words in blogs, you have to wonder how effective this sort of thing can possibly be. First off, what about people who want to talk negatively about these things? The fact that Microsoft and the Chinese government simply assume that anyone using any of those words be using them against the Chinese government certainly says something... At best this will just force people to come up with alternatives to these words -- a la spammers pitching Viagra. There should be plenty of talk about H|um4N r1g|-|ts or similar things. Of course, none of this is going to matter when the Chinese government starts shutting down any website that hasn't registered next month. It seems like anyone in China who wants to discuss these types of things should be using other tools that makes their presence a bit more anonymous. For all of the reasons why internet over satellite doesn't make much sense in the rest of the world -- perhaps it does make sense as a way for Chinese users to get around the Great Firewall of China?
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