It is no secret that China is a very heavily censored country, where posts that criticize the government are taken down swiftly. It has also made doing business in the country challenging as foreign companies who might be used to operating with more freedom will have to find ways to comply with the country’s laws.
In a recent report from The Wall Street Journal, it seems that China’s censors are growing more powerful by the day, to the point where images that are being sent can actually be intercepted and deleted mid-transmission, meaning that they will never arrive for the intended recipient, as discovered by activists and a new research report.
An example was when a friend of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo wanted to send a photo of Liu to his group of friends using WeChat. However given that Liu is considered by the Chinese government to be a dissident and has been jailed as a result, it looks like the country’s censors did not want Liu’s photos to be circulated as the friend later discovered that his friends had never received the images.
This move by the country’s censors is in response to internet users finding a way around the censorship. In the past censors would use software to scan for keywords, thus leading to users creating images instead of text, but it looks like even images are no longer safe from the censors. According to Wu Yangwei, the friend of Liu, “Sometimes you can get around censors by rotating the photo. But that doesn’t always work.”