Freedom of speech is something which we have grown up with if there is something to express, we can do so. But, to what extent can we really do so? Are there any restrictions on the ways in which people can speak or use words? It is a good practice to think twice before we spill words, as the impact could be different.
When we are having a normal conversation, it is an obvious fact that we do not intentionally weigh down the words which we use. Can it be the same when we are having a conversation over the cyberspace? That is something which most of us would not have thought about in the first place.
In the changing trends of the world, we can see that there are millions of people who use the cyberspace on a regular basis. Apart from that fact, over a decade now we can see that everyone is taking it to the social networking sites. It has become one of the biggest platforms where people get to express what they feel.
Cyberspace Rules in China
When it comes to China, things are a bit different and there are certainly said rules which need to be followed. The rules which are being followed in this particular are pretty much refined. There are a lot of things which goes into the rules which they follow. What are the elements which the censorship blocks is not yet vivid enough for one to understand?
Research on the Censoring
There was a research made based on the ways the Internet is being used by the people. A particular group has been researching the aspects of human rights, web, and global security. This group was able to figure out the ways in which the Chinese censorship works, especially when it comes to mobile messaging.
The report Citizen Lab showed the insights about how the censor is being applied on the messaging platforms. They had a look into the conversations which took place on the messaging platform WeChat. It is considered to be the world’s 4th largest platform and it used for making payments as well.
There is filter in the app, which would block the messages which would consist of certain words. The words which might get blocked “spiritual freedom”, mass arrest” and “human rights”. It is not just about the specific terms, it must not be used along with other words as well, and even in that case, the messages will get blocked.
No notification of censored messages
Unfortunately, when these messages are being blocked by the filter, the users are not intimated. There is no notification sent to the said user who has sent the message with forbidden words in the message. The user will get to see that the message has been sent, but the truth is that it never reaches the other user on the other end.
Scrutinizing every message
The moment the message reaches the server, it is screened through, when it is clear only then it is sent forward and delivered to the recipient. Apart from that particular factor, all the filters of the app are responsive enough as well. It will change as well according to the information being passed and it is possible only with the WeChat accounts from the homeland.
Focus on Crackdown on Human Rights Lawyers
It is said that WeChat has set a strong focus on the crackdown which occurred after the accusation of the Human Rights Lawyers. There were around 248 lawyers who were questioned by the police personnel. They were charged and were apprehended in an exceptional ambit, as they were attempting to rebel the power of the state law.
Draconian in Group Chats
When it came to the group chats, and then the case is different, as there were more possibilities of the people to come across these kinds of messages. Unfortunately, the number of messages which were blocked in the groups was high, as the keywords were apparently high in it.
The number of keywords was pretty high in the groups when compared to that of the individual chats. There is no clue on what basis there is a difference between the number of words between the chats of the individual ones and the group ones. On the other hand, it is evident that the Chinese government is careful enough to let the people discuss topics which are sensitive and might hurt the feelings of the individual as well.
Group Chats are vulnerable
When we consider the group chats, there are people who are from different background and have a different perception. There are possibilities that when one person in the group makes a provoking statement and that leads to something which is unhealthy is not a fair thing to happen.
The main aim behind forming a group of people is to have them together in peace and harmony. When that is getting sabotaged, it is for sure that we need to avoid the things which are leading towards it. The discussions which take place in the app might lead to disapproval of the people and there of lead to other consequences as well.
It is not just the individual chats or the group chats which are being censored. The WeChat Moments where people have an option to upload information from around the world, even they are being censored as well. It is clear that when an individual is using certain words in the chats or the posts there are possibilities of not being delivered to the person on the other end or being posted as well.
Apart from just censoring the words from the posts, it is said that the images are also being filtered out. There is a lot of filtering and censoring of the information which is being passed to other in the form of messages or images. There is a higher amount of attention to the group and the moment’s section as there is a particular feature called as semi-public.
Scrutiny of the Public Wi-Fi
The censoring of the words on the messaging platforms is one of the things which the Chinese law is following at present. On the other hand, the authorities from Hebei province have requested the business people who provide public Wi-Fi fix surveillance to the internet activities which are taking place online as well.
If the businesses do not follow, then they might need to face the consequences of fine and other charges as well. The police from the vicinity stated that it is for the online safety and protection. Businesses need to acquire the government approved equipment and get them installed to monitor all the cyberspace usage of the people.
In the end, it is clear that China has always been stringent when it came to following rules and regulations. When people want to voice what they feel and think that they do have the freedom of speech, then it is for sure being curbed by the law to some extent. The law wants to make sure that there is always peace and harmony amongst the people. And they feel that following this would help them to maintain it. So folks, next time when you are using these words, are aware of the fact that they are not going to be delivered and all your messages are always under scrutiny.
Author Bio: Anand Rajendran is the Co-Founder and CEO of Dectar a well-known Software products development and Mobile App Development Company based in Chennai, India. He has extensive experience in building and leading innovative and collaborative software development teams to deliver major software applications like Scimbo – Whatsapp Clone Script. He loves exploring new things and sharing his knowledge with others.