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Ng, and Masashi Crete-Nishihata 阅读报告中文摘要 Read a blog post on the report from Citizen Lab Director Ron Deibert.
Media coverage: Bloomberg, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, The Globe and Mail, Quartz.
This change means there is no feedback to users that censorship has occured making the restrictions on We Chat less transparent.
Censored keywords spanned a range of content, including current events, politics, and social issues.
微信 in Chinese), is the dominant chat application in China and fourth largest in the world, with 806 millionmonthly active users.
We Chat encompasses more than just text, voice, and video chat; it includes a rich set of features such as gaming, mobile payments, and ride hailing, which make it more of a lifestyle platform than a mere chat app.
Tencent issued a statement explaining that it “strictly prohibits publishing pornographic, vulgar, violent, bloody, political rumors and any illegal content.” The company said the action was “part of the commitment to providing quality user experience on Weixin in China,” and that it would “continually review and take measures” on suspicious content.In addition to keyword censorship, We Chat implements a URL filtering system in its built-in browser, which uses different lists of blacklisted and whitelisted websites for China and International accounts.To sample which URLs We Chat censors, we used a script to automatically test the Alexa Top One Million list of websites using both China and International accounts.Documenting censorship on a system with a server-side implementation such as We Chat’s requires devising a sample of keywords to test, running those keywords through the app, and recording the results.We used a sample of keywords found blocked on other apps used in China and systematically tested that sample in two modes: one-to-one chat and group chat.We Chat thrives on the huge user base it has amassed in China, but the Chinese market carries unique challenges.Any Internet company operating in China is subject to laws and regulations that hold companies legally responsible for content on their platforms.Differentiating content access based on user registration seemingly creates a “one app, two systems” model of censorship. When you send a message it passes through a remote server that contains rules for implementing censorship.If the message includes a keyword that has been targeted for blocking, the message will not be sent.We Chat offers a microblogging feature called “Public Accounts” that allows certain users to publish daily posts.On March 13, 2014, Tencent shut down nearly 40 Public Accountswithout giving any prior notice.