See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Screenshots of Censorship

Some Chinese bloggers have said that they were able to set up Chinese language MSN Spaces blogs using the “forbidden” political words. To clarify the situation I tried to set up my own freedom loving Chinese blog. I went into the MSN Spaces Chinese interface at: http://spaces.msn.com/?mkt=zh-cn, and tried to set up a blog titled 我爱言论自由人权和民主, which means “I love freedom of speech, human rights, and democracy.”

SCREENSHOT DETAIL:

I got the following error message: 您必须输入您的共享空间标题。标题不能包含禁止的语言,例如亵渎的语言。请键入一个不同的标题。Which means: “You must enter a title for your space. The title must not contain prohibited language, such as profanity. Please type a different title.”

SCREENSHOT DETAIL:

I guess Microsoft considers “human rights,” “democracy,” and “freedom of speech” to be profanity.

This censorship can be circumvented with Bennet Haselton's Freedom Hack Instructions. Using the instructions I was successful in creating the Chinese blog called “I love freedom of speech, democracy, and human rights.”

Portnoy in Taiwan has translated the instructions into Chinese.

FURTHER UPDATE:

I played around with the freedom & democracy blog I created through the hacking instructions and was able to create posts with politically sensitive headlines like “don't forget June4th 1989″ and “Falungong” without trouble:

So the filtering of MSN Spaces China appears limited to the blog's title only. Titles of individual posts and within the body of posts do not appear to be filtered.

  • Well, it seems that my name was misspelled…

  • mike

    What’s the point of testing whether you can do it? Does it help anything? Will it change anything in the positive direction? Could it have a negative impact that you haven’t thought far enough ahead about?

  • Rebecca MacKinnon

    Sorry Portnoy, that has now been fixed.

  • Tom Griffin

    Who created the filter? Was it microsoft or the Chinese government using microsoft technology? If it was microsoft itself, you have exposed them as oppressors. Thank you.

  • Cover Me, Porkins

    What’s the point of testing whether you can do it? Does it help anything? Will it change anything in the positive direction? Could it have a negative impact that you haven’t thought far enough ahead about?

    Am I back in “PHI 107, Theories of Knowledge and Reality” again?

  • Glenda

    Mike: read the description of this blog for your answer:

    “Global Voices is an international effort to diversify the conversation taking place online by involving speakers from around the world, and developing tools, institutions and relationships to help make these voices heard.”

    what’s the point of questioning someone’s motives on their own blog space?

  • What’s the point of testing whether you can do it? Does it help anything? Will it change anything in the positive direction? Could it have a negative impact that you haven’t thought far enough ahead about?

    Don’t resist the hijackers; you might make them angry! Cower in fear!

  • Ross

    Mike, you’re a pantywaist. Sorry Kerry lost. Anyway, this sort of thing is a big deal. I’m certain some Chinese nationals will see and appreciate the messages (or at least hear about them). I’m not a ‘1st Amendment extremist’, yet I can definitely appreciate the sentiments, as well as the possible positive impact. The ‘1st amendment extremists’ and ACLU-supporters who used to drool over statements as “The People vs. Larry Flynt”, “2 Live Crew”, etc., where are you now? Please get on board with the fight for freedom.

  • Way to go! Their censorship is reprehensible!

  • Me

    Mike… Interesting four questions. Maybe you could share your opinions.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site