posts about or somewhat related to ‘free speech’
Hao Qun, as quoted in The Guardian. China Tries to Rein in Microbloggers.
The News, via The Guardian:
China has launched a new drive to tame its boisterous microblogging culture by closing influential accounts belonging to writers and intellectuals who have used them to highlight social injustice.
The strict censorship of mainstream media in China has made social media an essential forum for public debate, but authorities have shown increasing determination to control it. Previous campaigns have warned the public against spreading rumours – a theme that has recurred in this crackdown – and ordered users to register with their real names.
Now attention has turned to the country’s opinion formers. A recent commentary in the state-run Global Times newspaper warned that “Big Vs” – meaning verified accounts with millions of followers – had become “relay stations for online rumours” and accused them of “harming the dignity of the law”.
Somewhat Related: The South China Morning Post reports that the central government has ordered universities to stop teaching seven subjects, among them civil rights, press freedom and the communist party’s past mistakes.
…Their products have been or are being used to commit violations of human rights and freedom of information. If these companies decided to sell to authoritarian regimes, they must have known that their products could be used to spy on journalists, dissidents and netizens. If their digital surveillance products were sold to an authoritarian regime by an intermediary without their knowledge, their failure to keep track of the exports of their own software means they did not care if their technology was misused and did not care about the vulnerability of those who defend human rights.
Via Radio Free Asia:
A young Tibetan traditional artist was sentenced to two years in jail with hard labor for having photos on his mobile phone of two compatriots who self-immolated in protest against Chinese rule, according to exile sources Saturday.
Ngawang Thupden, 20, was detained in October last year in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), but relatives learned of the prison sentence for “subversion” only four months later, the sources said, citing contacts in the Himalayan region…
…Chinese authorities have been cracking down hard on any efforts by Tibetans to publicize self-immolation protests after steps taken by Beijing to stop the burnings failed.
Thupden was accused of “subversion, propagating incorrect political messages, and causing disharmony among ethnic minorities.”
Take from those numbers what you will — universities are home to either smart, enlivened debate or misguided enthusiasm — but Lukianoff’s op-ed piece is worth a read. In the framing of his piece, university life looks a bit like micro-life. Which is what it should be but usually isn’t.
See one of his examples:
Civility is nice, but on college campuses it often takes on a bizarre meaning. In 2009, Yale banned students from making a T-shirt with an F. Scott Fitzgerald quotation — “I think of all Harvard men as sissies,” from his 1920 novel “This Side of Paradise” — to mock Harvard at their annual football game. The T-shirt was blocked after some gay and lesbian students argued that “sissies” amounted to a homophobic slur. “What purports to be humor by targeting a group through slurs is not acceptable,” said Mary Miller, a professor of art history and the dean of Yale College.
…Twitter has said that it will make its own judgments in such cases, as Google does — but what recourse do we have if they decide to do something we disagree with? More than anything, these kinds of cases reinforce how much influence private entities like Twitter and Google now have over what information we receive (or are able to distribute), and the responsibility that this power imposes on them.
Matthew Ingram, GigaOm. Twitter, Reddit and the battle over freedom of speech.
Important programming note as you think on this one: In the United States, at least and as Matthew points out, “free-speech protection is something that is only legally or constitutionally required of governments, not corporations.”
Andrew Nathan, professor of political science at Columbia University, to Index on Censorship. China will change leaders, but keep censorship.
The News: In the upcoming months China will hold its 18th Congress during which the communist party will appoint a new group of leaders. It has been expected that Xi Jinping will be become the country’s next president. However, there’s a growing mystery over where he actually is these days.