[NRG] Reminder: NRG Meeting: Reverse Engineering Chinese Censorship (Moll... @ Mon Nov 25, 2013 11am - 12pm (NRG Calendar)

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Wed Nov 20 11:00:15 EST 2013

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Title: NRG Meeting: Reverse Engineering Chinese Censorship (Molly Roberts)
Title: Reverse Engineering Chinese Censorship

Presenter: Molly Roberts

Chinese government censorship of social media constitutes the largest  
selective suppression of human communication in recorded history. In three  
ways, we show, paradoxically, that this large system also leaves large  
footprints that reveal a great deal about itself and the intentions of the  
government. First is an observational study where we download all social  
media posts before the Chinese government can read and censor those they  
deem objectionable, and then detect from a network of computers all over  
the world which are censored.  Second, we conduct a large scale randomized  
experimental study by creating accounts on numerous social media sites  
spread throughout the country, submitting different randomly assigned types  
of social media texts, and then detecting which types are censored. And  
finally, we supplement the current approach of conducting tentative  
confidential interviews with insiders via a participatory study, by setting  
up our own social media site in China, contracting with Chinese firms to  
install the same censoring technologies as existing sites, and reverse  
engineering how it all works. Our results demonstrate, contrary to prior  
understandings, that criticism of the state, its leaders, and their  
policies are routinely published whereas posts with collective action  
potential are much more likely to be censored (regardless of whether they  
are for or against the state). We are also able to clarify the internal  
mechanisms of the Chinese censorship apparatus, and show how changes in  
censorship behavior reveal government intent by presaging their action on  
the ground.
This talk is based on two papers, joint with with Gary King and Jennifer  
Pan, available at http://j.mp/ChinaExp and http://j.mp/ChinaObs.

Short bio: Molly Roberts is a 5th year PhD student in the Department of  
Government at Harvard and a member of the Institute for Quantitative Social  
Science.  Her research interests lie in the intersection of political  
methodology and Chinese politics, with a specific focus for methods of  
automated content analysis and the politics of censorship in China.   
Molly's research has appeared in the American Political Science Review and  
is forthcoming in the American Journal of Political Science.  In the fall,  
she will be joining the Political Science faculty at the University of  
California, San Diego.
When: Mon Nov 25, 2013 11am – 12pm Eastern Time
Where: MCS-148, 111 Cummington Mall, Boston, MA 02215
Calendar: NRG Calendar
     * Larissa Spinelli - creator

Event details:  

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