Microcensorship in China: Controlling the narrative or “letting a hundred flowers bloom”?
Abstract: This thesis looks at government censorship of Chinese social media, with a focus on the especially vibrant medium of micro-blogs – weibo 微博 in Chinese. It looks in detail at what kind of content is more likely to be censored, and how effective that censorship is. The approach is to conceptualise the Chinese online environment and the state-user interaction. Using these findings a hypothesis is then formulated, which suggests that the main focus of censorship of social media in China is on pre-emptive measures, directed against the organisation of social collective action online and offline. On the whole, the conclusion is that an online/offline dichotomy is too simple to describe the Chinese online environment. This hypothesis is then tried and proven valid by the method of a case study, where deleted posts from Sina Weibo collected on the database WeiboScope Search are analysed.
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