The Role of Social Media in China Behind the Great Firewall

The Role of Social Media in China Behind the Great Firewall

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In today’s society, many people are guilty of scrolling through their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds as though they are reading the morning newspapers. We utilise social media on a daily basis in more ways than we even realise. We not only use social media to connect with other people, but we often rely on it to keep us up to date with current news events and affairs. It could be said that we take our endless amount of Internet resources for granted, and are oblivious to the fact that many people live any differently. Can you imagine a world where the most popular websites are censored and blocked by the government? Where your every online move is monitored carefully? This is the reality for most people who live in China.

The Great Firewall of China” is the term that the international and Chinese media use to refer to the Chinese government’s Internet censorship regulations. As discussed in Michael Anti’s Ted Talk, China has over 500 million Internet users. This is the largest population of Internet users in the entire world, which is one of the reasons that the Chinese government feels the need to censor and control their citizens. The Chinese government has been censoring and blocking Internet content for several years so that they can prevent Chinese people from behaving in ways that will negatively effect their government.

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Social media played a large role in creating the Great Firewall of China. As recounted in the above Ted Talk, the Chinese government wanted to have access to, and monitor all Chinese citizens’ social media accounts. However, most mainstream social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were created in America. This meant that the Chinese government would not have access to the information that they needed, such as citizens’ personal details. Therefore, they blocked all popular social media platforms and created their own versions. The Chinese government is now able to monitor and censor most of their citizens’ social media accounts, as they created these platforms themselves.

Internet-censorship

According to the Ted Talk, the Chinese Internet is ‘booming’ and is in a league of its own. The following is a list of China’s main social media platforms (and what platform they replaced).

As you can see from the article titled “China profile – timeline,” cyber attacks on social media occur quite regularly. They also play a large role in contributing to the ever-evolving censorship of the Chinese Internet. The Chinese government monitors behaviour on social media to stop people from using the Internet to rebel against them. For example, they may be foreseeing an incident such as the Arab Spring, which was an anti-government uprising that occurred in 2011 in the Middle East. It was promoted by social media, which means that the Internet contributed significantly to this uprising. It may not have happened if the Internet was more censored.

Incidents such as these riots, and many other things, contributed to the creation of the Great Firewall of China. Social media, while helpful, can also be a dangerous tool. The Chinese government sees social media as a threat to its role in society, so they try to prevent incidents, such as uprisings, from happening by controlling the Internet. They censor people’s Internet usage and maintain that China remains separate from the rest of the world.

To end on a lighter note, please take a look at the video below. It is a song that makes fun of China’s Great Firewall by approaching the subject in a humouress manner, and it details some of the struggles that Chinese citizens have to deal with on a daily basis.

If you want to know if a certain website is blocked in China, please visit this website.

References:

Anti, M. 2012, ‘Behind the Great Firewall of China’, Ted Talk Website, viewed 29 March 2015,
https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_anti_behind_the_great_firewall_of_china

BBC.com. 2015. ‘China profile – timeline’, BBC Website, viewed 29 March 2015,
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-13017882

GreatWallOfChina.org, ‘Test any website and see real-time if it’s censored in China!’, Great Wall of China Website, viewed 29 March 2015,
http://www.greatfirewallofchina.org

MiddleEast.about.com, ‘Definition of the Arab Spring’, Middle East Issues Website, viewed 29 March 2015,
http://middleeast.about.com/od/humanrightsdemocracy/a/Definition-Of-The-Arab-Spring.htm

PandoDaily YouTube Channel. 2012, ‘PandoHouse Rock: ‘The Great Firewall Of China Song’, viewed 29 March 2015,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89lQef9-k18

Wikipedia search, ‘Great Firewall’, Wikipedia Website, viewed 29 March 2015,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Firewall

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One thought on “The Role of Social Media in China Behind the Great Firewall

  1. Tiarne,

    I also blogged about this topic. I particularly enjoyed the video making light of the great firewall of China. It’s difficult to imagine living in such a nation, hey? It seems like another world, yet it is not so far away. You explained it all very well and will leave readers with a detailed knowledge of the role of social media in China.

    Daniel

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