'Occupy' Now a Banned Search Term in China
A good rule of thumb for life is that if the Chinese government is against it, you're probably doing something right. The latest evidence to support this axiom is the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has spread from lower Manhattan to cities around the globe, including London, Auckland, Toronto, and Rome, among many others. Terrified by OWS' viral growth, the oppressive regime controlling China is taking measures to ensure the protests don't happen there. And it's starting with the internet.
According to UC Berkeley publication China Digital Times, Sina Weibo, China's hyper-popular microblogging site, is now banning any and all search keywords that could theoretically be associated with OWS. "A long list of banned keywords on Sina Weibo’s search function has been uncovered and tested by the CDT team yesterday," writes Sandra Hernandez. "All the listed phrases stick to one simple rule: a combination of 'occupy' (占领) and a place name—provincial capitals, economically developed regions, and few symbolic local areas." In other words, the hundreds of millions of Sina Weibo users are no longer allowed to search for "occupy Beijing," for instance.
Censorship in China is nothing new, and this latest stunt resembles what happened in January when Egypt contracted the freedoms of the internet in response to its uprising. That it's become so commonplace for the Asian powerhouse to stem the tides of protest by hindering citizens' web communication doesn't make it any less troubling. And it should call into question the morality of companies like Facebook, which is looking to expand in China. Such a move could mean making a deal with the devil.