China Doesn't Want People Talking About Egyptian Uprising Online

from the let's-just-leave-that-alone... dept

Whatever you think of how much impact social media has had on recent political uprisings and protests around the globe, it appears that many governments are worried about the impact. We’ve already seen how Egypt shut down the internet to try to slow down communication among protesters. And there’s at least some sense of dominoes falling, with Egypt following Tunisia, and a few protests starting to show up in a few other countries around the Middle East.

It looks like China has decided not to risk being the next domino by having the various microblogging/social network sites in that country block any mention of Egypt. I do wonder how effective that move actually is. Once people realize it, won’t that just make them wonder why, and make them more likely to seek out info on Egypt?

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Comments on “China Doesn't Want People Talking About Egyptian Uprising Online”

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14 Comments
Steve (profile) says:

Streisand effect not applicable?

I get the idea of your last comment “Once people realize it, won’t that just make them wonder why, and make them more likely to seek out info on Egypt?”… but isn’t there a point where the news is so enormous that the repressive government is “better off” blocking the speech then hoping people wont seek it out on their own? In the case of Egypt, the story is so huge that no one could not help but notice it. It’s not like people in China are going to only become aware of (and more interested in) these events because the news is being blocked. OK… maybe the blocking will make it more interesting to them but that would be offset by the inability of news getting to the average citizen. Or at least, that is what China is gambling on.

Eugene (profile) says:

What countries like China fail to realize, is that actions like this actually make it *more* difficult for them to monitor its citizens. By flagging specific keywords, you prompt those who create the keywords to invent new euphemisms you haven’t thought of. You effectively direct them under your own radar.

Consider, for example, how difficult it is to prosecute drug lords and leaders of organized crime. Since law enforcement has been so careful to flag any mention of illegal activity through suspected communications, criminals simply avoid those terms entirely. Catching someone red-handed in this manner is typically a monumental task.

In contrast, look at how the U.S. at least feigns tolerance to anti-government groups within the country. Very little if any of their communications involve complex, obtuse euphemisms that make it impossible to take action. Often, these groups end up logging reams of publicly available incriminating evidence…were they to ever *actually* do anything stupid. But if they ever began to suspect their communications were being constantly flagged, you bet your fake eyelashes that those communications would start looking reeeal boring to the average viewer.

I would not be surprised if China’s conduct over the years has spawned an entire underground pseudolanguage of unflaggable, unmonitorable communications.

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