April 20, 2022

Residents Swerve Censorship in Shanghai

April 20, 2022

Residents Swerve Censorship in Shanghai

April 20, 2022

China’s strict internet censorship programme has begun to falter in the face of ingenuity from Shanghai residents, who have found imaginative ways to bypass the ban on particular words, hashtags and even lyrics from their own National Anthem.

Since the widespread food shortages, healthcare disruptions and delivery failures resulting from the recent lockdown in the city, the government there has been trying to control the narrative on popular social media platforms with methods you might expect to find in an apocalyptic science fiction movie.

Despite the slogans and threats of punishment for spreading what people believe to be the truth about their situation, groups of Shanghai residents have continued to criticise the actions of the government and China’s commitment to “zero-covid”.

The government’s censorship task force has been deleting videos of residents being detained, bundled out of their apartments and manhandled by pandemic workers. Digitally published outrage over the separation of Covid-positive children from their parents has been dampened by censorship measures.

In this video, it appears that pandemic workers are forcing their way into a private resident’s accommodation, demanding that he remove something he had posted online.

There is a certain irony in the fact that by Easter Sunday the first line of China’s national anthem – “Stand up! Those people who refuse to be slaves!” – had been banned as a hashtag.

Despite these heavy-handed methods, dissenters have found the most innovative ways to avoid censorship. For example, during the small hours, internet users inundated the top two trending (and therefore government sanctioned) hashtags on Weibo with complaints before the censors managed to close the thread.

Using the topics “the US is the country with the largest human rights defacit” and “Shanghai handled several rumours regarding Covid” (government sanctioned threads), ingenious residents made sarcastic, critical posts – often replacing “China” with “US” in their content to avoid a ban. As a result of these subversive techniques, the posts were left unchecked for hours and China’s censorship workers became the butt of the humour.

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