Illegal pictures that are not allowed to be on the internet in China

Illegal pictures

You will not find these images in China

In China, not all pictures are allowed on the internet. Images are censored and even images that slightly resemble a banned image are removed. We have listed for you which images you will not see in China.

Tank Man

The iconic Tank Man photo depicts a demonstrator in Beijing who blocks the path of a line of tanks, simply by standing in front of them. China is making persisting efforts to censor this photo on the internet. In fact, pictures that even slightly resemble his famous picture are removed as well. Images of a row of books approaching a pack of cigarettes, a swan standing in front of a truck and a grasshopper standing in front of a large tire; they cannot be found on the Chinese internet.

The firewall

Behind the firewall the Chinese government put up, the bloodbath on Tiananmen Square never took place, the protests in Hong Kong are insignificant and Winnie the Pooh does not exist – you can read more about it on the next page. Because of all the censorship in Chinese media, the rules are circumvented in many different ways. Plain texts with keywords do not stand a chance. Rather, images are used creatively. For example, news articles from forbidden websites like the New York Times are posted as inverted images in Weibo. This is a social media website resembling Twitter, which is, of course, also banned in China.

A writer managed to post a picture of the Hong Kong protests. This required some creativity. The image was tilted and edited with brush strokes. Other citizens use cartoon characters and symbols as another strategy to circumvent the censorship.

Tightened censorship

In recent months, censorship has been tightened. This is due to the anniversary of the bloodbath on Tiananmen Square for example, which was exactly 30 years ago this June. For example, The Washington Post and The Guardian have been banned, along with ten other news websites. Other anniversaries that led to increased censorship include the deadly riots in Xinjiang in 2009 and the death of Liu Xiabao, a proponent of democracy, in 2017. The anniversaries are a major challenge for Chinese internet sensors, because “keeping the web clean” is not as easy as it sounds.

Jason Ng is an author who wrote Blocked on Weibo, and he notes that the government’s priority is with preventing group formation against the establishment. Still, he thinks it goes beyond simply censoring some protests. According to Jason Ng, it’s interesting to think about moral reasons for why things are removed.

Curious to find out what else has been banned? Continue reading on the next page.

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