Chinese censorship

China’s ban on puns may sound like just another ridiculous rule imposed by a Big Brother regime, but there’s more too it than meets the eye. Find out what on this episode of China Uncensored!

Published on Nov 25, 2015
Why is China afraid of Anastasia Lin, the “beauty with a purpose?” The answer could turn this year’s Miss World pageant on its head. Watch this episode of China Uncensored to find out how Miss World Canada has become one of the most pressing concerns for the Chinese government.

Users from all over the world have been plagued by micro-bloggging spam accounts. But, Newt Gingrich and several other high-profile users have utilized these account to boost their follower numbers.

Twitter boasts that it has 175 million “users,” 65 million of which are American. But the appropriate term is accounts, not users, as a Pew’s study makes clear: 6% of adults in the U.S. use Twitter regularly (8% of Internet users, which make up 74% of U.S. adults), which translates to about 15 million people. Minors were not included in the survey.

While some tweeters have multiple accounts, Pew’s numbers suggest that the zombie population — accounts run by bots or straightforward news feeds — is staggeringly high. So who is actually on Twitter? To use a zombie-movie favorite, is there anybody out there still alive?

Well, some, and they do have demographics. Seven percent of male and 10% of female Internet users are active tweeters. Fourteen percent of Internet users ages 18 to 29 are regular users; 7% for ages 30 to 49; 6% for 50 to 64; and 4% of those over 65. Five percent of white (non-Hispanic), 13% of black (non-Hispanic) and 18% of Hispanic Internet users are tweeters.

The Chinese micro-blogging site Sina Weibo has launched a new set of rules in an effort to curb spamming and the growing prevalence of online rumours.

The rules state: If a user’s followers are identified as posting “abnormal” content by Weibo’s Anti-Spam department, those followers will be removed; accounts that post advertising content will have those quickly deleted; and, Weibo may prevent violators and their followers from posting messages, or even shut down all-related accounts entirely.

Experts say the recent train crashes in Wenzhou and Shanghai prompted the social media site to place stricter regulations on circulated content. On July 23, a high-speed train crash killed 40 and injured 191 near the eastern city of Wenzhou. Online users took to Sina Weibo to relay news of the accident while the government bided its time calculating a public statement. When authorities released their official report, netizens criticised the government and the mainstream media for their delayed response and efforts to control information about the crash on the web. Recently, more than 200 people were injured in a similar train crash in Shanghai, setting off another surge of information and speculation through social media.

Though controlling online rumours appears to be a top priority, Weibo’s new rules could also help solve a growing problem in China: zombie accounts. Online users are boosting their number of followers with the help of software aimed at creating fake micro-blogging accounts. Because “zombies” can actively follow others, comment, and retweet, many companies have enlisted these accounts to aid in advertising and sales. This phenomenon is quickly becoming the newest form of online spam.

Zombies and the increase of social media spam are not exclusive to China. Western media sources recently condemned Newt Gingrich for harbouring fake Twitter followers after he accused the press of ignoring his growing social media influence. Gingrich boasts a following of more than 1.3 million users, but after further investigation, the media learned that 80 percent of the followers’ accounts were inactive or created by hired agencies. And, in Syria, bloggers revealed the online narrative associated with #Syria, #Daraa and #Mar15 was flooded with advertisements, random pictures, and other information irrelevant to the conflict.

Zombies and spam have sparked an online war with tech geeks armed with applications on the battlefront. Twitter and Sina Weibo have guidelines that help dispose of spammers, but with the recent invention of Klout and the analytics platform, it has become easier to identify the influence of such users and put an end to the rise of these zombies.


About arnulfo

veterano del ciberespacio
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