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Remarks from a Censor: “I Hope This System Will Be Discontinued Soon”

Remarks from a Censor: “I Hope This System Will Be Discontinued Soon”

Oiwan Lam from Global Voices shares key points from a recent 37-minute discussion between “Teacher Li Is Not Your Teacher,” also known as @whyyoutouzhele on X/Twitter, and “Blowfish Princess” (河豚公主, Hétún gōngzhǔ), a censorship employee at a prominent Chinese social media site. The highlights include discussions on censorship methods and standards, Blowfish Princess’ tips for users to avoid censorship by displaying “positive energy,” and discontent among her coworkers.

We must review the information being shared by dissidents abroad and identify any homonyms or coded terms. Some of my colleagues did not enjoy this task and disagreed with the practice of censorship.

In simpler terms, I was confined to my home due to the pandemic last year and although I couldn’t leave my house, I fully supported the government’s zero-COVID strategy and lockdown. However, the task of censoring content was unpleasant and had a negative impact on me. It is highly probable that I will switch jobs in the near future and leave this role of censorship behind.

I hope that the current censorship system will be abandoned in the near future. I strongly dislike working in this industry, as it causes me a lot of distress. Unfortunately, I am unable to switch to a different industry at the moment, so I use my free time to continue learning in hopes of leaving this difficult situation. I am not criticizing anyone; I simply wish for a more open and accepting environment for freedom of expression. The current system is too restrictive. [Source]

To learn more about the process of censorship in China and its development over time, check out the following posts from CDT:

  • Journalists’ thoughts on the time period of complete censorship from 2018.

  • Our long-running translations of leaked censorship and propaganda directives, particularly a dense series of daily instructions from the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020
  • A feminist author’s thoughts on the “attack” on her WeChat profile, dated 2020.

  • to 2022

    A collection gathered from the public of the different censorship-related error messages on Weibo, spanning from 2021 to 2022.

  • Analysis of the removal of 30 from Douban’s discussion and rating site, also from 2021
  • In 2022, Wei Zhou wrote a letter to his readers addressing the deletion of their comments on his WeChat blog.

  • Translation of a leaked document explaining censorship of “sudden incidents” on social media site Xiaohongshu, also from 2022
  • A comedian’s description of the inner workings of a studio and the resulting official evaluation by censors.

  • Specifics about the censorship methods employed by Qihoo 360’s generative AI chatbot, dating back to 2023.

  • There have been many reports of police visits or summonses related to the act of drinking tea, which serve as real-life examples of online censorship.