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China: Not Worried About Twitter's Decision to Self-Censor

Twitter's announcement Thursday that the site will begin censoring content according to the relevant laws, regulations and policies of each country in which it has users, was followed not only by American netizens, but discussed as far away as China.

Although Twitter remains blocked in China, the site's Chinese-language users, an assorted bunch, moved quickly to source people to translate [zh] the company's statement and figure out what it might mean—a Twitter.cn, for example, or, as Ai Weiwei wonders, if the time has come to move on in search of a new platform with more respect for its users [zh].

Wen Yunchao, a well-known Internet activist from Guangzhou now working in a sort of domestic exile in Hong Kong as a producer for a new TV station, posted his thoughts on Twitter's new censorship measures to his Twitter account (@wenyunchao) several hours ago:

Image from Weibo

Image from Weibo

从推特发布的公告来看,现在是比以前进步了,以前是接到一国政府要求删除推特信息时,全球均不可见,现在是只是该国用户不可见。(1)

1. From the looks of Twitter's announcement, this is an improvement. Previously, a tweet could be deleted at the request of a country's government, leaving no one in the world able to see it. Now, only the users in that specific country won't be able to see it the information in question.

推特新的审查政策不会对现有中文用户产生影响。现在翻墙使用推特的用户,推特很难从技术上认定这些用户来自中国,因此亦无足够的依据屏蔽这些信息在中国的显示(无从显示)。(2)

2. Twitter's new censorship policy won't affect current Chinese-language users. It won't be easy for Twitter to determine through technical means which of its users come from China, as they have to scale the GFW to access the site, meaning the company won't have enough information to know who in China to block information from.

推特想进入中国,至少存在两在不可克服的障碍。一是黑箱的审查机制与透明规则之间的冲突无法解决。除非像谷歌那样以内资公司的方式存在,否则推特屏蔽特定信息将面临用户的诉讼。(3)

3. If Twitter decides to set up operations in China, there are at least two obstacles it won't be able to overcome. The first is that there's no way of resolving the conflict between black box censorship mechanisms and transparent regulations. Unless Twitter were to do like Google and set up a joint venture in China, it's going to have to deal with lawsuits from all the users who get singled out.

二是推特既然有新浪的政府公关能力,亦无法做到像新浪一样巨量的审查投入。对于中国当局来说,不会允许一个比新浪更宽松的类推特平台在中国提供服务。(4)

4. The second is that even if Twitter had as much PR sway over the government as Sina, it still wouldn't be able to commit as vast an amount of resources as Sina has to censoring content. Nor would Chinese authorities permit a platform like Twitter, far more open than Sina, to provide services within China.

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