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China and the internet: an uncomfortable friendship

Many people sitting in chairs are shown staring at computer screens in a restaurant/café setting. Chinese posters can also be seen.
What information is accessible to these patrons of an internet café in China? What is censored from their view? (Photo Courtesy of Kai Hendry/flickr)

In the United States, the Internet is used to access illegal gambling and pornography sites, as well as to research stocks, crowd-source what car to buy, or keep in touch with childhood friends. Can we allow one or more of those activities, while restricting the rest? And who decides what needs restricting? In a country with democratic principles and an underlying belief in free-market capitalism, the answer is decided in the court system. But globally, the questions––and the government’s responses––are very different.

China is in many ways the global poster child for the uncomfortable relationship between Internet freedom and government control. China, which is a country with a tight rein on the dissemination of information, has long worked to suppress what it calls “harmful information,” including dissent concerning government politics, dialogue about China’s role in Tibet, or criticism of the government’s handling of events.

With sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube blocked in China, the nation’s Internet users––some 500 million strong in 2011––turn to local media companies for their needs. Renren.com is China’s answer to Facebook. Perhaps more importantly from a social-change perspective, Sina Weibo is China’s version of Twitter. Microblogging, or Weibo , acts like Twitter in that users can post short messages that can be read by their subscribers. And because these services move so quickly and with such wide scope, it is difficult for government overseers to keep up. This tool was used to criticize government response to a deadly rail crash and to protest a chemical plant. It was also credited with the government’s decision to report more accurately on the air pollution in Beijing, which occurred after a high-profile campaign by a well-known property developer (Pierson 2012).

There is no question of China’s authoritarian government ruling over this new form of Internet communication. The nation blocks the use of certain terms, such as human rights, and passes new laws that require people to register with their real names and make it more dangerous to criticize government actions. Indeed, fifty-six-year-old microblogger Wang Lihong was recently sentenced to nine months in prison for “stirring up trouble,” as her government described her work helping people with government grievances (Bristow 2011). But the government cannot shut down this flow of information completely. Foreign companies, seeking to engage with the increasingly important Chinese consumer market, have their own accounts: the NBA has more than 5 million followers, and Tom Cruise’s Weibo account boasts almost 3 million followers (Zhang 2011). The government, too, uses Weibo to get its own message across. As the millennium progresses, China’s approach to social media and the freedoms it offers will be watched anxiously––on Sina Weibo and beyond––by the rest of the world.

Questions & Answers

Please help me about religious perspectives on gender development
Hafeez Reply
Religious dimension of gender development
Hafeez
outline the condition in europe during the 18th and 19th centuries that contributed to the development of sociology
ARCHIBOLD Reply
Why do people deviate from societal norm
lucky Reply
discuss five factors that contributed to the emergence of sociology as an academic discipline
Evans Reply
why is there an increase in education in zambia
Caroline Reply
What is sociology
Celestina Reply
sociology is the study of groups and their way of interaction in the society
lucky
discuss the roles the family has failed as a primary agent of socialisation?
Lotyang Reply
the family has failed as a primary agent of socialisation because it has not been able to inculcate the needed values to bring unity in the society
Damba
please what are the stages in social movement
faith Reply
social movement is the movement where people gathered and keep their own demand to fullfill it social movement generally casus by name of women,untouchbility,dominance in the country
unknown
it also cause in emergence and decline of devlopment then aslo social movement causes generally
unknown
stages in social movement involved people's coming together for the means of interaction and for the welfare of the society
lucky
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Simon Reply
factors that led to the emergence of sociology as an academic discipline
Evans
group life. historical dominancy. cultural variability, complex way of life. social classes and social crisis
Waqar
 The rise and development of sociology is based on political, economic, demographic, social and scientific changes.
Mohamed
sociology is the study of society and their behaviors and also their culture
anwar
theories of sociology
abdinur
sociology is the study of human behaviour
Sahara
sociology is the scientific study of behavioural perspective of human being towards their environmental change, cultural reliability, and all sphere of social value, norms that exhibit their socialisation in the society.
omotunde
question please? why do people deviate from societal norm
lucky
people violate the social rules and norms because they are incapable of been meet up with the societal goals. They lack means of achieving societal means to achieve societal goals.
omotunde
people deviate in society because of they belief and characters .
Ahafianyo
social issues faced in India
Alan Reply
poverty untouchbility corruption child marraige overpopulation all this are the big issues of social in india:)
unknown
reservation system, polluted politics, people's exploration, illiteracy, etc.
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elia Reply
what is a monogamous family?
Basu Reply
family or marriage ?
asad
what is a monogamous family?
Basu
?
asad
What is family
Sukhjit Reply
family is type of relationship in this it deals with positive and negative tearms and conditions
unknown
who's a sociologist
Denis Reply
family is a group of people who are lived under one roof and they have a biological relation.
what is the origin and development of sociology?
namiak Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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