Nicholas Kristof has a great column today about Internet censorship in China.
The bad news: It is bad and pervasive. The good news: It’s not as pervasive as we thought.
The challenge for the authorities is that there is just too much to police by moderators, and automatic filters don’t work terribly well. Chinese routinely use well-known code phrases for terms that will be censored (June 4 might become June 2+2, or May 35). Likewise, Chinese can usually get around the “great firewall of China” by using widely available software, like Freegate, or by tunneling through a virtual private network.
Most Chinese aren’t overtly political — seeking out banned pornography is typically regarded as more rewarding than chasing down tracts about multiparty democracy. Still, Internet controls are widely resented. My bet is that more young Chinese are vexed by their government’s censorship than by its rejection of multiparty democracy.