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The Networked Creativity in the Censored Web 2.0

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censorship, gfw, china, internet censorship, firewall, great firewall

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The Networked Creativity in the Censored Web 2.0

  1. 1. THE NETWORKED CREATIVITY IN THE CENSORED WEB 2.0 A Network and Content Analysis of Chinese Twitter Users’ Adaptation to Internet Censorship • Weiai (Wayne) Xu, PhD Candidate, Department of Communication, SUNY-Buffalo • Miao Feng, PhD Candidate, Department of Communication, University of Illinois - Chicago
  2. 2. BACKGROUND • China’s Great Firewall (GFW): a sophisticated cyber--infrastructure to limit access to popular international web services and to filter traffics containing undesirable content (Freedom House, 2013) • Reinforced rhetoric to justify domestic internet regulation and “internet sovereignty” following Edward Snowden’s revelation of U.S. eavesdropping on global communications (The Diplomat, 2014) • A trend contradicting open data and big data movement
  3. 3. BACKGROUND Will innovations happen here?
  4. 4. FACTS Online sales on “Singles Day” reached $9 billion, bigger than Black Friday. “Singles Day” is a manufactured holiday, popularized by Chinese internet users. Innovations in consumer culture and products WeChat, an IM rivalry to WhatsApp and LINE The world's 3rd largest smartphone distributor. A competitor to Samsung
  5. 5. More importantly Creative internet-supported civil movement
  6. 6. Innovative ways to bypass Internet censorship (Freedom House, 2013) • Virtual private networks • Proxies • Peer-to-peer sharing • Coded language
  7. 7. • Web 2.0 platforms enable networked collaboration to crowd-source technological adaptive strategies to Internet censorship • Web 2.0 platforms also facilitate networked political strategies aimed at changing Internet policy
  8. 8. A case in point Use of Twitter hashtags for GFW-related discussions and mobilization
  9. 9. A webometric approach to analyze the Twitter activities
  10. 10. A webometric approach to analyze the Twitter activities Why study their profiles: they are positive deviants—the innovators who challenge the establishment and norms, and embrace and evangelize alternative solutions (Pascale, Sternin, & Sternin, 2010). How? : location, profile image and profile description (all available via Twitter API)
  11. 11. A webometric approach to analyze the Twitter activities Why study their profiles: SNA can identify central Twitter users and reveals whether the Twitter community is inclusive/exclusive, democratic/authoritarian, and united/divided community. How? : standard network measures (nodal-level and network level): betweenness centrality, density, centralization, and clustering
  12. 12. A webometric approach to analyze the Twitter activities Why study their profiles: a typology of engagement actions to support crowdsourcing and counteraction against internet censorship How? : content coding framework based on Van Laer and Van Aelst’s (2010) digital action repertoire used in social movement studies
  13. 13. A webometric approach to analyze the Twitter activities Van Laer, J., & Van Aelst, P. (2010). Internet and social movement action repertoires: Opportunities and limitations. Information, Communication & Society, 13(8), 1146-1171.
  14. 14. A webometric approach to analyze the Twitter activities Our approach HIGH THRESHOLD LOW THRESHOLD TECHNICAL TACTICS POLITICAL TACTICS NETWORK TACTICS
  15. 15. A webometric approach to analyze the Twitter activities Our approach Technical tactics—such as spreading knowledge about setting up proxies, tweaking hosts files, spotting loopholes in the firewall. political tactics—such as mobilizing virtual protests, email/phone bombs of ISPs, and culture jamming through parodies and satirical coded language. networking tactics—reaching out to resourceful individuals and institutions to obtain skills or utilize the resourceful actors’ large followings to disseminate information.
  16. 16. Research Questions 1. What are the demographic and behavioral characteristics of the users involved in Twitter-based discussion and mobilization on the issue of internet censorship? 2. What are the characteristics of peer interactions among the users involved in Twitter-based discussion and mobilization on the issue of internet censorship? 3. What themes and engagement tactics are used by the users involved in Twitter-based discussion and mobilization on the issue of internet censorship?
  17. 17. Methods Data source: Twitter API, Python scripts are used to download all tweets sent between 6-11-2014 and 8-17-2014
  18. 18. Data analysis plan
  19. 19. References • Freedom House (2013). Throttling Dissent: China’s New Leaders Refine Internet Control. <http://www.freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/resources/Throttling%20Dissent_FOTN%202013_China _0.pdf >. • Pascale, R., Sternin, J., & Sternin, M. (2010). The power of positive deviance. Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, MA. • The Diplomat (2014). China's 'Sovereign Internet'. <http://thediplomat.com/2014/06/chinas-sovereign- internet/>. • Van Laer, J., & Van Aelst, P. (2010). Internet and social movement action repertoires: Opportunities and limitations. Information, Communication & Society, 13(8), 1146-1171.

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