Baidu's New Censorship Policies for Leaders' Names After the 18th Party Congress

Prior to November 2012, Baidu's practice was to restrict all queries containing the name of a member of

Searches on Oct. 27, 2012 for PBSC members' names on
Baidu restricted to Sina.com.cn return no results.

the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China ("PBSC") to a strict white list of about a dozen websites controlled by the central government and the Communist Party:

State Run News Outlets
The China Daily (chinadaily.com.cn)
The Economic Daily (www.ce.cn)
The People's Daily (people.com.cn)
The Guang Ming Daily (gmw.cn)
Xinhua (xinhuanet.com)
China News Service (chinanews.com.cn) 
State Run Broadcasters
China Radio International (cri.cn)
China Central Television (cctv.com and cntv.com) 
Government Agencies
Communist Party Youth League (youth.cn)
Central Government (gov.cn)
State Council Information Office (china.com.cn)
State Council Taiwan Affairs Office(chinataiwan.org)

In early 2012 Baidu also began including its own "Baike" Wikipedia clone in its strict white list - https://plus.google.com/u/0/106378980111121757454/posts/K6wRmyDbJEV.

In the weeks surrounding the 18th Party Congress, which convened from November 8 - 15, Baidu began tweaking its censorship of the names of current and future PBSC members' names, in some cases relaxing its censorship of those names and returning search results from its broad white list, which includes large China-based news and portal websites such as Sina, Sohu, and Tencent. See: http://blog.feichangdao.com/2012/11/as-politburo-standing-committee.html

One month after the conclusion of the 18th Party Congress, Baidu appears to have settled on the following censorship policies for the names of senior government leaders:

  • Search results for queries containing only a member's name in Chinese are restricted to the strict white list.
  • Searches for member's names on Baidu's Tieba, Zhidao, and Wenku products return no results.
  • Search results for queries containing a member's name in Chinese plus a sensitive term are either restricted to the strict white list or censored completely.
  • New Search results for queries containing a member's name in Chinese plus a non-sensitive term are restricted to the broad white list.

Some examples:

These screenshots show that searches for "Hu Jintao" in 2009 and 2012 only returned results from Baidu's strict white list.


These screenshots show that a search for "Egypt Hu Jintao" in February 2011 only returned results from Baidu's strict white list. The same search in December 2012 returned results from Baidu's broad white list.


These screenshots, taken in December 2012, show that a search for "Egypt Hu Jintao site:sina.com.cn" returns tens of thousands of search results, while a search for "Namibia Hu Jintao site:sina.com.cn" returns no results, only a censorship notice.

These screenshots, also taken in December 2012, show that a search for "Xi Jinping" only returns results from Baidu's strict white list, but a search for "Xi Jinping Reform" returns results from Baidu's broad white list.

But these screenshots show that, while Baidu returned over a million results for a search for "Xi Jinping" restricted to the China-based Sina.com.cn, the same search on the Hong Kong-based Sina.com returned no results, just a censorship notice.


Finally, these screenshots, also taken in December 2012, show that a search for "Xi Jinping" on Baidu's Tieba, Zhidao, and Wenku products still returns no results.

From http://blog.feichangdao.com/2012/12/baidus-new-censorship-policies-for.html

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Wed, Mar 19, 2014

Bing Bests Baidu Censorship

Abstract

Independent research from Xia Chu has shown that, in addition to non-China content, Bing censors a vast amount of content that is hosted inside China and which is not censored by China-based internet companies like Baidu. After communicating our issues with Microsoft, Bing removed certain censorship rules (kudos to Bing), but much work remains to be done.

We recently called for Microsoft to release its transparency report for Bing (as have others - full disclosure, Rebecca sits on our advisory board).  Microsoft has yet to respond to this request. But Xia’s independent research of Bing’s China censorship policy could be regarded as a de facto transparency report for the search engine.

In this thorough study, the results of which we have verified, Xia examined Bing's SERP (search engine results page) for over 30,000 sensitive and nonsensitive query terms, and launched these queries from both inside and outside of China. Comparing and examining these results, plus querying with special search operators, reveals unprecedented detail on Bing's China filtering practices.

The main findings from Xia’s research include:

  • Bing has a list of “forbidden” terms where no results are shown. 139 such terms have been identified.

  • Bing has a blacklist of websites that it never shows to China users. 329 such websites are identified. (5 have been lifted after our communication with Microsoft.)

Thu, Feb 13, 2014

Setting Bing's Broken Record Straight

We can also now trace complicit Bing Chinese censorship back to 2009 as highlighted by Nicholas Kristof. It looks like Microsoft has indeed changed its censorship mechanism after our research made headlines this week. But Bing is still seriously flawed on two fronts: its algorithm favors pro-Chinese government websites by default on all search terms in simplified Chinese and their front end mistakenly delivers explicit censorship of search results on some search terms for users from all over the world.

Wed, Feb 12, 2014

No error here: Microsoft deploying Chinese censorship on global scale

Microsoft says: “The results themselves are and were unaltered outside of China”. This is simply not true.

Tue, Feb 11, 2014

Bing practicing Chinese censorship globally

Our latest research indicates that Microsoft’s search engine Bing is censoring English and Chinese language search on its home page in order to exclude certain results. We have also noticed that Bing is practicing subtle censorship with search results. In both instances, Bing is filtering out links and stories that the Chinese authorities would deem damaging.

Thu, Jan 23, 2014

Massive blocking of foreign media in China

After Tuesday’s report Leaked Records Reveal Offshore Holdings of China’s Elite by ICIJ, China blocked a number of major newspaper websites. All websites below were blocked after publishing copies of the original report. They're all listed as the publishing partners for “Chinaleaks” stories on ICIJ's website. The Great Firewall rarely blocks non-Chinese websites. Many of them have published the Chinese version of the report which probably explains the unusual development.

Newspaper

Main Language

Article

http://www.icij.org

English

Chinese

http://www.theguardian.com

English

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