Feeds

Chinternet uncensored: Decrypt Weibo tool unblocks tweets

GreatFire.org in bold, Beijing-baiting move to uncensor Sina Weibo

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The team behind anti-censorship not-for-profit GreatFire.org has turned on a new service designed to allow micro-bloggers in China to recover censored Sina Weibo posts, in a move which won't go down well with Beijing.

Decrypt Weibo comes from GreatFire’s FreeWeibo project and, as the name suggests, is a decrypting tool which allows users to read those posts which Sina Weibo admins have replaced with the euphemistic message: “Sorry, this weibo is not suitable for the public. Please contact customer support for help.”

A post on GreatFire.org on Wednesday explained the following:

Weibo users will see this message often when viewing their own timelines, conducting searches on Sina Weibo or when viewing someone’s profile page. The retweet of the censored weibo is however sometimes not censored. Weibo users are thus left with an intriguing comment but have no way to view the original weibo.

In an effort to solve this problem, Freeweibo.com is pleased to announce the launch of Decrypt Weibo.

When they see the “not suitable for public” message in future, users need only click on the time it was posted, in the lower left-hand corner, and they will be given the URL of the deleted post.

It’s then as simple as copying that link into Decrypt Weibo, after which the tool will automatically decrypt the original message.

GreatFire claimed it had taken a “big step forward” in launching the tool but admitted that the current government crack down on “online rumours” could make users self-censor before they even post messages:

Given recent events surrounding Weibo big Vs [big Vs are China's equivalent of verified Twitter users] practicing self-censorship, perhaps there will be less controversial content which needs to be censored. However, we also know that one message can make a big difference, and we are delighted to be able to provide Sina Weibo users with the ability to see this information whenever they want to.

In emailed comments to The Reg, GreatFire.org co-founder Charlie Smith claimed that it would be “near impossible” for Sina Weibo to effectively close Decrypt Weibo down without making “fundamental changes” to the way the microblogging platform operates.

“The effort required to make the changes would be a big enough problem that Sina would wish many times that they did not have to censor content on the web site,” he added. “It would also require a significant investment of man hours to make the necessary changes to counteract what we are doing.”

GreatFire.org has of late been a constant thorn in the side of the authorities and the web platform giants which are forced to self-censor user-generated content in order to keep their license to operate.

Last year it launched FreeWeibo.com, a site offering users completely uncensored Sina Weibo search, based on blocked data provided by GreatFire and the WeiboScope project run by the journalism school at Hong Kong University.

Smith revealed that so far there had been no attempts by the authorities to block FreeWeibo, although that could be because it’s not yet popular enough to warrant such attention.

“Sina's likely reaction to our new service will be to inform the authorities about our presence - but they have certainly already done this before - and put the matter in the hands of the police,” he added.

“The police won't find us and won't be able to shut us down which means that they would have to shut down the entire Sina Weibo service to stop us doing what we are doing. This would lead to a massive public outcry.” ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Lawyers mobilise angry mob against Apple over alleged 2011 Macbook Pro crapness
We suffered 'random bouts of graphical distortion' - fanbois
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.