Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Censorship China Social Networks The Internet Science

Researchers Made a Fake Social Network To Infiltrate China's Internet Censors 49

Posted by Soulskill
from the inside-job dept.
Jason Koebler writes: In order to get inside China's notorious internet filter, Harvard researcher Gary King created his own fake social network to gain access to the programs used to censor content, so he could reverse-engineer the system. "From inside China, we created our own social media website, purchased a URL, rented server space, contracted with one of the most popular software platforms in China used to create these sites, submitted, automatically reviewed, posted, and censored our own submissions," King wrote in a study published in Science. "We had complete access to the software; we were even able to get their recommendations on how to conduct censorship on our own site in compliance with government standards."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Researchers Made a Fake Social Network To Infiltrate China's Internet Censors

Comments Filter:
  • by paiute (550198) on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:40AM (#47729885)
    ...and then we publicized the hell out of it to make sure that the Chinese government would see it and crack down even harder on net access. But I got to write this paper and put it on my CV.
    • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:46AM (#47729973) Homepage Journal

      the Chinese government would see it and crack down even harder on net access

      Um, how, exactly?

      It's not like they're going to change their standards over this. What allowed this to happen is that the task of censorship is so time consuming and broad that the government had to outsource some of the work to the site runners.

      (Government) censorship is always top-heavy, and always relies on a degree of volunteerism from the populace. The most this researcher did is made the government a bit more paranoid about the actions of foreign nationals.

      Studying governments and cultures is an important branch of academia, and while it was ethically questionable, it's still entirely within the domain of critical examination.

  • by penguinoid (724646) <spambait001@yahoo.com> on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:43AM (#47729939) Homepage Journal

    If you want random strangers to do your censoring for you, expect random strangers to know the details on what you want censored.

    • The abstract linked in the summary doesn't even suggest the paper contains a list of "what" is censored. It's more about "how" its supposed to be censored.

      Qualifications about processes for popular users, manual deletion, automatic deletion, when to user ban, when to IP ban. They only briefly mention a few specific keywords: riot, terrorism, masses.

      • The abstract linked in the summary doesn't even suggest the paper contains a list of "what" is censored. It's more about "how" its supposed to be censored.

        If the censor doesn't censor it, then it's not censored. The keywords tell you what the government wishes to censor, the algorithms tell you what the government does censor. If the two don't match, it means either the government is failing to censor stuff it wishes to censor, or is incidentally censoring stuff it doesn't want to censor.

  • !infiltration (Score:5, Informative)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@NOspAm.world3.net> on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:43AM (#47729943) Homepage

    They didn't "infiltrate" the censors, they just got the same standard access to tools and communication channels as any other random social network site in China. This tells us absolutely nothing that isn't already public information if you simply read Chinese posts by people who have used the system.

  • Unite! There, now this won't be seen for sure.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    "purchased a URL"

    Where do they sell URLs?

    I've only ever managed to buy domains.

  • by mrex (25183)

    So Chinese people are allowed to say whatever they want with their little tiny microphones that nobody hears. The government only gets involved when a message seems to reverberate through the public and actually threaten to cause the citizens to rise up.

    That totally doesn't sound familiar *at all*.

  • There is the very point where Chinese get punished without knowing why, an area where law not reached *yet*.
  • From the article: "Chinese people can write the most vitriolic blog posts about even the top Chinese leaders without fear of censorship, but if they write in support of or opposition to an ongoing protest—or even about a rally in favor of a popular policy or leader—they will be censored."

    That is interesting. I am glad someone has discovered this. So perhaps the way to organise a protest, is to use secret messages coded in the form of vitriolic comments. Eg, "Mao Tsedong is an idiot" = Meet at Ti

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein

Working...