Watching How China Censors: As Officials Crack Down on Web Chatter, New Technology Finds Out Why

China’s government isn’t the only one paying close attention to what the country’s citizens are saying on social media sites.As China’s 500 million Internet users rapidly adopt social media, academics and entrepreneurs are figuring out ways to track online messages and blog posts to better understand what the government censors — and even how to predict its intent.China’s government employs software and an army of thousands to police the Internet, but it leaves much of the censoring to social-media sites like Sina Corp. to take down posts that violate local and national rules issued each week. While it is generally known that certain words or phrases, such as the Tiananmen Square massacre, will trip the censors, the scope isn’t fully understood.

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