Cracks in the Great Firewall

By | February 22, 2017
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The Great Firewall of China, the vast hardware and software system the Chinese government uses to prevent access to certain Internet content, is often depicted as monolithic and Orwellian. However, recent research by U-M’s Mary Gallagher (director of the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies) and Blake Miller (a PhD candidate in political science) found that information control in China is more varied and decentralized than previously thought. “Our research uses new online analysis methods and reveals serious cracks,” they write. “Although extensive, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) system of control over online social interaction is quite diffuse — and at times incoherent.” Using metadata from a database of more than 50 million posts on Chinese news websites, Gallagher and Blake identified government astroturfers (fake “grass-roots” commenters) and found that their work is highly decentralized and erratic, and the fake posts are often at odds with the expressed preferences of the central government.

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Author: News Staff

Contact Michigan IT News staff at umit-cio-newsletter@umich.edu.