July 18, 2016 1 Comment
There’s an interesting article this morning in Bloomberg News on blogging in China. It seems the censors are very sensitive about critiques of a former president’s hairdo.
At the peak of her WeChat blogging career, Laura Lian was earning about $7,000 a month. Writing satirical articles for more than 220,000 fans, she won backing from an investor and quit her public-relations job.
Then it all came tumbling down. Internet authorities shut down her blog, called Shameless China, with no warning. It happened just after she posted an article mocking Chinese men’s hairstyles, including former President Jiang Zemin’s slick-backed coiffure.
“It didn’t dawn on me how serious the situation was,” Lian said. “I didn’t realize I was never getting back this account and all my followers.”
Lian’s story underscores how precarious the world of blogging remains for many writers in China. Well-known bloggers have been jailed and shamed on national TV. Qin Zhihui, a well-known author on social-media platform Weibo, was sentenced to three years in prison for publishing false information to drive web traffic. A 2013 missive by the Supreme People’s Court and top national prosecutor effectively criminalized defamatory web posts that are read by more than 5,000 people, reposted more than 500 times or caused people to hurt themselves.
We’re pretty fortunate, most of us, to live in countries where the governments aren’t as aggressive at censoring our writing. I am aware, and maybe you, too, fellow bloggers, that lots of individuals and organizations are active censors. Write the wrong thing and we could be fired from our jobs. Or, perhaps someday very old posts will come back to haunt us when we’re applying for new opportunities.
Government censorship, I think most will agree, is bad. But, is self-censorship motivated by fear of the consequences intolerant others may impose on you a bad thing? What do you think?