With excerpts from the national anthem or allusions to subversive songs, the Chinese show their imagination to dodge online censorship and express their discontent with the restrictions against covid-19.
China closely monitors the internet, with censors removing content that casts state policy in a bad light or is likely to create unrest.
But now censorship must work at full capacity to defend the national strategy of “zero covid”, under which most of the 25 million inhabitants of Shanghai have been confined since the beginning of April.
Exasperated by problems with the supply of fresh produce, access to medical care outside of covid cases, and the sending of people who have tested positive for the virus to a quarantine center, many take out their anger online.
For Charlie Smith, co-founder of the GreatFire.org site, which tracks Chinese censorship, the Shanghai lockdown has become “such an important issue that it cannot be fully censored.”
Internet users rival in inventiveness and, to avoid censorship of a photo, they slightly crop its edges or invert it as in a mirror. This frustrates the automated filtering program of the censors, which are powered by artificial intelligence.
To avoid censorship of their comments, internet users also use allusions or puns.
– Internet users versus censorship –
Anti-lockdown Internet users also use other tactics.
For example, they mobilized on the book and movie review site Douban.com, in order to, thanks to their online votes, place the dystopian novel “1984” at the top of the ranking.
Objective achieved, before the censors intervene.
Overwhelmed, the latter failed to prevent the viral spread last month of a video titled “Voices of April”, which collected in six minutes stories of Shanghai residents helpless in the face of confinement.
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