Social Media Content Controls in China

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Social Media Content Controls in China

Key Takeaways

  • Publications that explain how social media content is moderated in China include:
    • Who Not What: The Logic of China's Information Control Strategy
    • Social Media as Tools of Maintaining Harmony in China: The Case of Sina Weibo
    • Controlling Critical Messengers: Foreign Correspondents in China
    • Specificity, Conflict, and Focal Point: A Systematic Investigation into Social Media Censorship in China
  • "More Than Plain Text: Censorship Deletion in the Chinese Social Media" emphasized the moderation techniques in place for multimedia posts.

Introduction

This research provides seven publications, academic studies, and thought pieces on how social media content is moderated in China. A description is provided for each of the seven, and they are hyperlinked.

Who Not What: The Logic of China's Information Control Strategy

  • Here is a link to the publication.
  • It was published in 2021.
  • The article explains how social media is moderated. Social media companies are given the responsibility of moderating content on their platforms.
  • They also report some cases of user content violation to the government. The article presented the authors' view on content moderation from influential thought leaders with controversial ideologies.

Social Media as Tools of Maintaining Harmony in China: The Case of Sina Weibo

  • Here is a link to the publication.
  • It was published in 2018.
  • The study outlines the process of information control in Chinese media. It used Sina Weibo as a case study. Ten interviews of Chinese social media users in China and Germany provided the authors' insight on consumer perception.
  • According to the study, many natives consider information control in China instrumental in "maintaining a harmonious society."

Controlling Critical Messengers: Foreign Correspondents in China

  • Here is a link to the publication.
  • It was published in 2021.
  • The study examines China's measures to promote a desired image of the country. The authors share interviews of European and North American foreign correspondents in China.
  • The correspondents describe the government's techniques to control undesirable news about China from marring the country's image.

The Networked Citizen: Control of Media

  • Here is a link to the publication.
  • It was published in 2019.
  • The Control of Media is a chapter in "The Networked Citizen." It is found on pages 221-236 of the book.
  • In the chapter, the authors explain the use of media management, including website cleaning, to control rumors and other undesirable content. It explains the role private bodies, like Internet companies, play proactively aligning with the government regulations.
  • The book is available on Springer but requires premium access.

More Than Plain Text: Censorship Deletion in the Chinese Social Media

  • Here is a link to the publication.
  • It was published in 2020.
  • This study explained the moderation techniques in place for both multimedia and plaintext social media posts.
  • The authors highlighted the importance of ensuring multimedia and plaintext posts on social networks are within regulations. It compared removed and surviving posts on Weibo to explain the techniques.
  • This publication requires premium access.

Specificity, Conflict, and Focal Point: A Systematic Investigation into Social Media Censorship in China

  • Here is a link to the publication.
  • It was published in 2020.
  • The study examines postpublication information control techniques on Chinese social media. It compares 2,280 pairs of removed WeChat content.
  • It provides an overview of how international trade media can suffer loss if not carefully aligned to regulations.

The Communist Party Thinks China's Prolific Censors Are Not Censoring Enough

  • Here is a link to the publication.
  • It was published in 2021.
  • The article highlights what kind of media is moderated and how governmental teams control in-house media firms' moderation teams. It explains how the government commissions social media companies to prevent the spread of illegal information.
  • It also highlights some sanctions on defaulting social media brands.

Research Strategy

For this research on social media approval in China, we leveraged credible resources in the public domain, including academic journals, research networks like Research Gate, leading Chinese and global news networks such as CGTN and CNN, and government websites. Few publications, academic research papers, or thought pieces focus on information approval and control on social media in China. This is probably because most of the authors on this topic have approached it from a political angle and do not focus on explaining the techniques of moderation but channel their efforts towards other discussions surrounding the topic. Articles surrounding how to go viral on Chinese social media did not address viral posts from the moderation angle. Hence, we provided recent publications that addressed the moderation process.

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