Leak exposes ban on nicknames for President Xi Jinping on Chinese social media

Leaked documents in China appear to show high levels of censorship in place on a leading social media platform similar in function to Instagram.

The platform’s moderators are said to have pickup 564 sensitive, offensive names and references to the Chinese president Xi Jinping.

Xiaohongshu, an app similar to Instagram that claims to have 200 million members using its service, is now said to have removed the use of the allegedly offensive terms from the site.

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In China, where the relationship between business and the government can be a lot cosier than it is in the UK, companies who mock the establishment are at risk of penalties.

The ban list included a range of phrases including “personally commanding the epidemic” and “the general secretary is coming to my house” and names such as “Adolf Xitler”, “Winnie the Pooh” and “Mr S*** Pit”.

The list is also said to have included bans on a range of things, including songs and art that referenced the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989.

“Public sentiment diaries” were also included in the leak, which saw news that risked gaining attention in an undesirable way flagged by content moderators.

Then, using keywords, censors were able to remove them, news.au report.

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The information in the leaked files says: “The role of the daily is to provide strategies to address the sensitive points of the day and to report back on previous incidents.

"In the 20 daily newspapers, the censorship department reported a total of 596 pieces of public opinion, an average of nearly 30 pieces per day.

“The daily analysis and recommendations of key public opinions represent the value orientation of the Xiaohongshu censorship system. The daily instructs the censors what content is ‘negative,’ ‘harmful,’ or ‘rumour,’ and ultimately reflects the Xiaohongshu censorship standards.”

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The document called Public Opinion Monitoring and Handling Process and System defines 10 types of “public opinion incidents”, which include “social incidents that may cause political and social unrest, and endanger national security” as well as “people‘s concerns about the Chinese Communist Party and government agencies”.

Eric Liu, a former content moderator for the Chinese social media site Weibo who now works as an analyst for the China Digital Times, said this leak was unlike anything he’s experienced before.

He said: “I had never heard of such a thing when I was working at Weibo in 2011. We only took orders and deleted things accordingly, instead of making predictions based on sensitive topics."


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