Friday, November 5, 2010


We all know the story of the 1920s. The government told people they weren't allowed to drinking, and what happened? The best recipes for moonshine emerged. Fast-forward a century later and prohibition is still happening in many forms—the one I’ll focus on today is China’s Great Firewall. As this weeks’ group presentation indicated, China’s has one of the most heavily monitored Internet usage in the world. A slew of sites are banned, and by a slew, I mean lots. But what is the aftermath of these bans?

Homegrown versions of Facebook, Twitter, and the like are widely used throughout China, and low and behold the government itself uses the local version of them. They use it both to promote their own messages, but more so to closely track who is uploading (and viewing) banned material and when. The armies of detectors that weblo, China’s version of Twitter, uses is enormous—but not impossible to get through. As the Economist article Breaching the great firewall mentions, the banned news that Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo received the Noble Peace Prize spread like wildfire. However, China can now go back and trace the sources through the controls China has on the weblo servers. So is it worth it? Surely it is. But how long will it take before you don’t have to be technological savvy to have your voice heard in China?

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