While many people and countries view the Internet as a place of total freedom to say whatever they want – often without fear of reprisal – inside of China’s Great Firewall there exists an extensive system of filters and controls. The system is often quite subjective, and at times even contradictory. Nonetheless, for the 700 million Chinese, use is growing exponentially.
This summer, China’s fast-growing digital media sector set 68 categories of material that are censored. The guidelines ban material that include excessive drinking or gambling, sensationalizing criminal cases, ridicules historical revolutionary leaders, current members of the military, police, judiciary, or anything that promotes and publicizes “luxury life.” Also banned are material associated with prostitution, rape, affairs, partner swapping, and sexual liberation.
Despite the restrictions and bans, China’s Internet continues to expand. While China bans Facebook, Twitter, and Google apps, the use of WeChat in the country is expanding. In China, WeChat is a super-app that does virtually everything a user needs, all from within the app itself. Need a service? Want to schedule a lunch? Transfer funds? Post a review? Buy something? It is all contained within the app, making it powerful, and also a little scary. Advertisers love it, but all data must be shared with the Chinese government.
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Discuss the freedoms of the Internet. Are there downsides to this?
- View the NYT video on WeChat in China: https://nyti.ms/2jZdURP
- How does the Great Firewall impact global marketing?
- Show the TED Talk about China’s Great Firewall: https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_anti_behind_the_great_firewall_of_china
- What are the implications for global commerce?
Source: New York Times