<The Chinese keywords on messaging app LINE’s “bad words” list and why they are “bad”>

For an updated summary of the Citizen Lab’s excellent research into censorship on LINE to which I contributed, see this Nov 21, 2013 post.

Back in May, Twitter user @hirakujira was poking around in the code for Lianwo, the Chinese version of the popular mobile chat app LINE, when he noticed a curious line: “<key>warning.badWords</key>” followed by a string that read in Chinese: “Your message contains sensitive words, please adjust and send again.” Hirakujira subsequently identified the application files which contain these so-called “bad words” and posted them. The Next Web and Tech in Asia reported on how even though LINE (which is a Japanese spin-off of Naver, a Korean company) wasn’t yet actively censoring messages sent through its Chinese-branded app, the inclusion of such files indicated they had built in such a capability into the program—a forward-thinking move for any foreign content provider/distributor that hopes to succeed in China.

What I hope to do in the next few days is to take a closer look at the first roughly 40 of the 150 words that Hirakujira posted, translating and explaining the significance of those words with respect to current Chinese politics. Some are quite obvious, but others are quite obscure. By examining the words, we may hope to get a sense of what LINE thinks is worth censoring in order to appease their Chinese regulators. So for the next few days, consider this site rebranded as “Blocked on LINE (maybe in the future).”

The twenty-one posts (links will be added as the posts go up):

  1. 浙江签单哥Zhejiang’s receipt-signing Brother
  2. 警察杜平 / Police Dupin; 宣恩杀人现场 / Xuanen murder scene
  3. 叶迎春内衣 / Ye Yingchun underwear; 叶迎春 / Ye Yingchun
  4. 孙国相拆迁 / Sun Guoxiang demolition
  5. 中央领导内幕 / Central leadership insider
  6. 盘锦开枪 / Panjin shot; 四学者建言 / Four scholars suggestions; 
  7. 盘锦二表哥姜伟华Panjin, Second Watch Brother: Jiang Weihua; 姜伟华名表 / Jiang Weihua namebrand watches; 江诗丹顿 表叔 / Vacheron Constantin uncle
  8. 只身挡坦克 / Tanks block alone
  9. 爆料不孝女Expose: unfilial daughter; 爆料朱熹后人 竟是政协委员 / Expose: Zhu Xi’s descendants, suddenly CPPCC committee members
  10. 人大附中择校费杨东平Renmin High School, school choice fees; Yang Dongping
  11. 奥数叫而不停 / Complaints about Math Olympiad have not ceased
  12. 帝都 实行宵禁Imperial Capital implements night curfew
  13. 11月5日至15日 出租车禁行Nov 5 to 15 rental cars banned; 表叔 陈应春 / Uncle Chen Yingchun
  14. 江泽民被控制Jiang Zemin has been controlled; 江系军委被撤 / Jiang withdraws from Military Commission
  15. 张蓓莉200万耳环Zhang Peili 2 million RMB earrings; 温家 戴梦得 / Wen [Jiabao] Diamond; 温家宝 27亿 / Wen Jiabao 2.7 billion [USD]; 影帝温家 / Actor Wen Jiabao; 温家 资产700亿 / Wen Jiabao assets 70 billion
  16. 网络封锁 / Internet blockade
  17. 维族 砍人Uyghurs stab people
  18. 和田 暴乱 / Hotan rebellion
  19. 万鄂湘亚视 / Wan Exiang, Asia Television Limited
  20. 李正源李刚Li Zhengyuan, Li Gang; 交警夏坤 / Traffic cop Xia Kun
  21. 64屠城June 4 massacre


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