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How To Hack Chinese MSN Spaces to Use Banned Words

Thanks to Bennett Haselton of Peacefire.org for the following public service instructions for Chinese users wanting to circumvent the word filters on MSN Spaces China to put e.g. “democracy” in the title of their blogs.

If somebody would like to translate these instructions into Chinese, please feel free to do so, post the translation on your blog or website, and please give us the link in the “comments” section of this post. Alternatively, if you don't have a blog or website, you can post the whole translation directly into the “comments” section.

UPDATE: The Working Man blog in Taiwan now has a translation.

ALSO NOTE: Doubleaf says he has tried using MSN China Spaces and the sensitive words are no longer blocked. Are other people out there having the same experience?

FURTHER UPDATE (9:15PM June 16th) – I just tried setting up a Chinese Spaces blog myself using the Chinese characters for “democracy” “human rights” and “freedom,” and got an error message telling me I could not use forbidden words.

Also, if you're in China and try this, if you have problems, questions, or if it doesn't work, please also let us know in the “comments” section.

——————————————————————–

How to put banned Chinese words in the title of a blog on MSN Spaces China

WARNING! Even though you can use these instructions to insert banned words into the title of your Chinese blog, Internet access in China is still monitored and controlled by the government. If you use these instructions to post banned material, you should not publish your blog from an Internet terminal where your actions could be traced back to you personally, and you should not publish anything on your blog that could be used to identify you. You should also use a HotMail.com address that doesn't identify you by your real name (create a new HotMail.com account if necessary).

To use these instructions, you will need to create a new MSN Spaces account. Unfortunately these instructions cannot be used to remove the filter settings from an existing blog. If you have already created an MSN Spaces account using your MSN.com or HotMail.com address, you will also need to create a new MSN.com or HotMail.com address, since each existing MSN.com or HotMail.com address can only be associated with one MSN Spaces account.

To create blog where you can post banned Chinese words in the title:

IF YOU SPEAK ENGLISH:

  • If you speak English, go to http://spaces.msn.com/?mkt=en-us
    Use the English interface to create a new MSN Spaces blog.
  • Then once the blog has been created, go to the URL http://spaces.msn.com/?mkt=zh-cn to switch the interface back to Chinese. You can now publish your blog in Chinese and use banned Chinese words in the title. As long as your blog is *created* using the English interface, the word filter will not be applied.

IF YOU DO NOT SPEAK ENGLISH:

  • You must have a HotMail account. Create a new HotMail account if you don't already have one, then go to www.HotMail.com and sign in to your HotMail account. Make sure you are signed in before proceeding.
  • Go to this URL: http://spaces.msn.com/?mkt=en-us
    The interface will display in English.
  • Click the “Sign Up” button in the middle of the page. [Note: if this document is translated into Chinese, the words “Sign Up” should remain untranslated, since this is how the user will see the button.]
  • On the page where you enter settings for your new blog:
    In the field marked “1.”, enter a title. You can enter banned words in the title here, or you can change the title later.
    In the field marked “2.”, enter the URL you want.
    Leave “3.” the way it is.
    In section “4.”, check the checkbox (which indicates that you accept the MSN
    Terms of Service).
    In the bottom row, click the button on the left labeled “Create your space” [note, if this document is translated into Chinese, do not translate the words “Create your space”] to create your MSN Spaces account.
  • The next page that comes up will say (in English) that your MSN Spaces account has been created. In the bottom row, click the button on the right labeled “Go to Your Space” [note, if this document is translated into Chinese, do not translate the words “Go to Your Space”] to proceed to the page to edit your MSN Spaces account.
  • Once you are viewing the page to edit your MSN Spaces account settings (in English), add the characters “&mkt=zh-cn” to the end of the URL in the browser.
  • This will switch the interface back to Chinese. However, since you *created* the blog using the English interface, the Chinese word filter will still not be applied to the title of your blog.

  • You can now edit the title of your blog to enter banned Chinese words.
    (However, you still will not be able to enter English words like “ass” that are banned from the English interface.)
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  • http://doubleaf.com doubleaf

    “democracy” and other sensitive words are no longer banned in MSN Space China. even in title now
    Whoever knows Chinese can have a try

  • http://www.bigsound.org/portnoy/ Portnoy

    I’m from Taiwan. I have translated the instructions into traditional Chinese and post it on my personal blog.

  • http://www.peacefire.org/ Bennett Haselton

    Doubleaf: If you are in China and you are able to create a blog on MSN Spaces and putted banned keywords in the title, you are probably using the English-language interface to create your blog — the result of connecting to http://spaces.msn.com/ using an English-language browser.

    If you create your blog using the English interface, then the Chinese word filter will not be applied to the title. If you create the blog using the Chinese interface, then the Chinese word filter *will* be applied. This filter setting is remembered even if you switch back and forth between the Chinese and English interfaces after the blog has been created — what matters is the language that you were using when the blog was setup.

    When you connect to http://spaces.msn.com/, you get the English or Chinese interface depending on whether you’re using an English or Chinese browser. However you can override this by setting the language in the URL:
    http://spaces.msn.com/?mkt=zh-cn for Chinese
    http://spaces.msn.com/?mkt=en-us for English

    So for a user with an English browser, the steps to verify the Chinese filtering are: switch to Chinese, create your new MSN Spaces blog, then switch back to English and try to post the banned Chinese words in your blog title. It’s the exact opposite of the steps that a user with a Chinese browser would use to *circumvent* the filtering: switch to English, create the blog, then switch back to Chinese.

    Let me know if that works for you — you can email me at bennett@peacefire.org.

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  • Tom Brandt

    This is good work.

  • Carl

    This is just a technical note, but:

    DO NOT USE HOTMAIL FOR SENSITIVE EMAILS!! Every email coming from Hotmail has the “IP address” of the computer that sent it in the mail headers. That means that whoever intercepts your mail can track down which computer sent the message. It’s not safe for anonymous use at all. Please use another service, or you risk getting burned severely!

  • Rebecca MacKinnon

    Carl, you’re right. I was originally told you need a hotmail address to create a Spaces blog, but it turns out that’s not necessary at all. I was able to create a couple of blogs with a couple of other email services. I’ll let Bennett know.

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