As citizens in China and around the world commemorate the twenty-fourth anniversary of the June 4th incident in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, Internet censorship in China around this sensitive date has now become expected and almost routine. Though, as Tech in Asia notes, the censorship this year likely won’t be as intense as it was during the twentieth anniversary—when hundreds of sites went down for so-called “Internet maintenance”—and as websites consider more sophisticated forms of filtering out June 4-related posts, much overt censorship will still take place on sites behind the Great Firewall, including seemingly trivial steps like removing the candle emoticon from being inserted into Sina Weibo posts.
Another way the social media site Sina Weibo censors its site—alongside manual deletions by human censors of sensitive content—is by blocking the user from searching for specific keywords, and instead returning a message that says no results can be displayed. Though the blocking of keywords is a blunt tactic that often cuts off access to many legitimate posts—in addition to sometimes being ineffective as users switch to homophones or other code words—it is still widely employed on the site. Below are seventy-one keywords (along with brief translations and notes) that are currently blocked from searching on Sina Weibo.
I performed this test by utilizing research by Jeffrey Knockel into words that trigger surveillance and censorship on Sina UC and Tom-Skype. I grabbed his list of known sensitive words related to June 4 on those chat clients and tested them on Sina Weibo on June 3, 12:00 PM EST. The notes and translations above were provided by The Citizen Lab (with additions and edits by me).