hackingbear writes "Harvard sociologist Gary King has just completed two studies that peer into the Chinese censorship machine — including a field experiment within China that was conducted with extraordinary secrecy. Together, the studies refute popular intuitions about what Chinese censors are after. He found that the censors actually permit 'vitriolic criticism' of China's leaders and governmental policies but the censors crack down heavily on any move to get people physically mobilized to act on such criticism. In a related development, China's top court issued a ruling on Monday to threaten a 3-year sentence for people posting online rumors viewed by 5,000 internet users or reposted more than 500 times. Though, in the same ruling, the court also clarified that a person reposting false rumor should not be punished if he or she does not clearly know the information is false, even if real harm is done. "