Tag Archives: media regulation

The Great Firewall of China

This week’s topic concerns media regulation and the effect space, time and place has upon audiences and what they are or are not able to consume.

Immediately this reminded me of the mass regulation of Chinese internet imposed in the region, which has interested me for some time. The Chinese government have a firewall in place which has the ability to block anything and everything not approved. This includes many Western sites such as Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Instagram leaving residents and tourists unable to access their outside accounts when in the country.

The Chinese constitution states that its citizens have freedom of speech and the press however in practice the Government utilise a loophole to control this through claiming news articles and websites can expose state secrets endangering the country. As the definition of ‘state secrets’ is vague, this gives authorities a broad scope on what they can regulate in the media. (Xu, B 2015)

Despite having blocked many international websites, China made their own social media platforms which are just as popular and very much like their western counterparts. This also gives the government the ultimate control of what is able to be accessed on the internet in their country instead of attempting to censor and regulate international media sites.

Although Google does operate in China it is heavily censored with a number of search terms banned or blacklisted including terms such as ‘democracy’, ‘human rights’, ‘freedom’, ‘reform’ alongside names of various Chinese Politicians and events like the Tiananmen Square Massacre. However it is mirrored by the Chinese search engine Baidu, which is the most popular search engine in China and many users utilise it form downloading pictures, music and TV shows. Although a lot of the content it provides is unavailable outside China due to copyright. (Bethany, 2014)

chinese-internet-cartoon

Weibo is the Chinese version of Twitter and Facebook mixed together in a hybrid. People follow their friends and celebrities and have a 140 character limit on posts. However due to language differences, a character in Chinese can say a whole word as opposed to English where a character is a single letter. This leads to a lot more information being shared and explored in a single post compared to the western counterpart. Weibo reportedly has 503 million users registered making up 30% of internet users worldwide.

China’s Youtube is in fact called Youku. Widely used for watching dramas, music videos and other viral content circulating throughout the Chinese internet, audiences are presented with a means of watching online videos. Again it is quite similar to the Youtube platform but users are only able to view Chinese government approved content. (Bethany, 2014)

The Great Chinese Firewall means audience members have a different internet experience due to their physical space and location regardless of where an individual is from, the rules apply to everyone.