DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS 10
China has the largest online population in the world, comprisinglargely of 20-25 year olds. The Chinese government is conscious ofinformation posted online and thus practices social media censorship.The government has already banned international websites likeFacebook and Twitter, and censors all other social websites in china.Hence, this research proposal is on the censorship of social media inchina. Research demonstrates that a majority of Chinese civiliansobject government censorship. The purpose of the study is todetermine if Chinese netizens aged 20-25 that use social media areapprehensive about social media censorship, and how the targetpopulation change online behavior out of concern of governmentcensorship. The research hypothesis is that censorship of socialmedia results in anxiety among social media users. Using qualitativeand quantitative study, the research concludes that social mediacensorship in china affects the online behavior of netizens aged20-25 years.
Data Collection andAnalysis
In order to collect data that will be relevant for the study, it isnecessary to determine how the target population (netizens 20-25years) uses social media. Hence, quantitative research will apply indetermining the figure of Chinese civilians that use social media anddemonstrate concern towards censorship. Notably, the Chineseadministration has banned major social networking websites, Facebookand Twitter, which would have made it easier to gather a substantialfigure for statistical analysis (King, Pan & Roberts, 2013).China has big websites, like sina.com, though the major part of itssocial media landscape is disbursed over many websites, such as localblogs and chat forums. This causes a major logistical difficulty indata collection through survey (Shirk, 2011).
The challenge derives from the many exceptional website addresses andsoftware interfaces, diverse companies and government observingaccess to these sites, numerous network reliabilities, and terms ofuse as well as censorship modalities. However, China’s social mediasystem acts as a great opportunity for researching localizedregulation of general expression. This owes to the fact that the manylocal sites avail considerable information concerning the geolocationof China’s netizens posts. Additionally, many social media users inChina express their ideas through blogs and the well-known Sina Weibo(Xiao, 2011).
The survey entails locating, gaining access and downloading postsfrom the many Chinese social media websites, mainly Sina Weibo. Thesurvey will also entail revisiting the post often to check thecomments, and determine if any censorship has happened. Since it ispossible to determine the geolocation of posts, and the targetpopulation for the study is 20-25 years, posts downloaded will bethose from learning institutions. The target population is highlylikely to be in college and university and have more time for socialmedia, hence conscious about the government’s social mediacensorship. It is possible to download posts and escape censorshipbecause the data collection method is automated. Contrary, China’scensorship is largely manual. Eventually, it was probable to downloadthousands of posts from users posting from college or university(King, Pan & Roberts, 2013).
The quantitative research makes it possible to get information on thecensorship of social media, in addition to getting a statisticalfigure of 20-25 year olds that demonstrate concern over social mediacensorship. This creates the need for a qualitative research, throughinterviews, which determines how social media censorship affects thebehavior of netizens. The research identifies 20-25 year olds thatare active on social media, and asks them to provide responses toquestions concerning their take on social media censorship.Interviews are effective in providing the needed data because theyinvolve personalized response to the issue of censorship. Thequestions are specific, which makes it easier to get responses fromthe specific target audience. For instance, by asking the respondentto state their age, it becomes possible to categorize the responsesbased on age.
In order to conduct interviews, it is important to ensure that theparticipants consent to becoming part of the research, and that theirresponses can be used publicly for the study. The interview methodentails asking participants to fill questionnaire. This is because itenhances the chances of ensuring that respondents provide trueresponses. A questionnaire is personal, which means that none of therespondents is aware of the other’s responses. Due to limitation ofresearch location, the interview will happen at San Francisco StateUniversity, and in regions around Parkmerced community. Using randomsamples, respondents will first be required to fill the consent form,and then provided with the questionnaires. The research will continueuntil a substantial figure of responses is attained.
The tables below show the sample consent form and interviewquestions.
Table 1: Consent form
Censorship of Social Media in China
I am a student at San Francisco State University, carrying out interviews for my research project. I am studying how censorship of social media in China affects the behavior of netizens (20-25years).
The research requests you to fill a questionnaire on how social media censorship has had an effect on your behavior. The interview lasts for thirty minutes. Nevertheless, you are free to expound on the topic and spend as much time as you desire. In case there is a question, you are not open to answering, please skip to the next question.
All responses are confidential. I will store the information safely, and only my supervisor and I will access it. Following completion of the study, all feedback from the questionnaires will be securely stored.
Agreement by Participant
I am knowledgeable that my taking part in this research is voluntary. I am aware of the research objective, and if I wish to discontinue my participation, I will do so without giving an explanation.
The student conducting the study has reviewed the pros and cons of taking part in the research. The responses provided are confidential and true, and I have a copy of this form for my reference.
After reading the form, I consent to become a participant.
Participant’s Signature Date
Table 2: Interview questions
Censorship of Social Media in China
Please provide as much detail as possible.
Name of participant:
Age: __ Gender:___
What is social media censorship?
What forms of social media are widespread in China?
How often do you post on social media?
What is your view on social media censorship?
Does the government have a right to censor what people post on social media?
Have you or someone you know been a victim of social media censorship?
What is your reaction to social media censorship?
How does social media censorship affect your behavior as an active social media user?
Participant’s Signature__ Date
Through the survey, it was possible to access and download thousandsof China’s social media posts from Sina Weibo and blogs before theywere censored and following there censorship (Nathan, 2003). Notably,social media posts touch on diverse topics. Thus, a random samplingtechnique covers all topics, which makes it less informative onspecific interest topics. As a result, the analysis commences with astratified random sampling design. First is the selection of topicareas that are of interest to the research. These include posts aboutthe government, policies and issues affecting civilians. For everypost, the content was evaluated and grouped into its topic area.
Later, the websites from where the grouped posts derived wererevisited severally to detect any censorship. From the survey, it wasapparent that censorship happens within 24 hours for all topic areasidentified. It was easy to determine that the messages had beencensored, since the censored posts comprised of notes like, “sorry,the host you were looking for does not exist, is deleted or underinvestigation” (Bamman, O’Connor, & Smith, 2012). The surveydemonstrates that the government within 24 hours of posting censors80% of social media posts. Censorship is high and low depending onthe content. High censorship is apparent in posts that critic thegovernment, or those that encourage civilians to engage in collectiveaction. Low censorship was apparent in posts that commend governmentpolicies.
It was possible to collect questionnaires from a thousandparticipants that voluntarily filled the questionnaires. Thedemographic characteristics of the respondents are also relevant tothe study. Gender representation was higher among males as comparedto females. This demonstrates that males are more likely to postcontent on social media compared to females. Since the objective isto collect information on social media censorship in China, thenationality of participants is important. Another important aspect isthe age of participants. The study aims at determining the behaviorof 20-25 year old netizens. After collecting the questionnaires, theywere grouped according to gender, ethnicity and age. Thequestionnaires for participants that did not fall between the ages of20-25 in addition to questionnaires from participants that were notfrom China were not used.
Participants share similar characteristics, 100% of all respondentsdemonstrated knowledge on social media censorship, are active socialmedia users and have been victims of censorship. Posts that resultedto censorship were also common among all participants, because theypost on issues commenting on the government and call for civilianaction against government policies, which are deemed unfair. Therespondents responded positively to the fact that social mediacensorship affected their behavior. The participants highlydemonstrate dislike towards the Chinese government initiative ofcensoring social media content. Based on the results from thequestionnaires, behavior is affected in two ways. Social media userseither stop posting messages they fear may result in censorship andthus endanger their lives. Another reaction is citizens react bycontinuing to post messages that demonstrate dissatisfaction togovernment policies despite endangering their lives.
In conclusion, social media censorship is prevalent in China,specifically among users that are aged between 20-25 years. Amajority of these netizens are in colleges or universities and activesocial media users. In addition, the netizens are highlyknowledgeable about government actions on censorship, which rangesfrom arrest, deleting of social media content and editing of posts.Hence, there is a high relationship between social media censorshipand Chinese civilians aged 20-25. Censorship is largely done bygovernment, which censors information from the age bracket due totheir active social media use. The population also forms majority ofcitizens that have knowledge on how to use social media, whichencourages their participation.
The behavior of netizens is also an important variable. Consideringthat, most of those that post to social media know each other hence,comment on each other’s posts, their reactions to censorship areall negative. All participants feel that the government does not havea right to censor information they post using social media. This isbecause they feel that as a democratic state, they should freelyenjoy their freedom of speech. Most of the citizens avoid postinginformation that touches on government issues and policies, to avoidarrest. Others continue to post online and devise manners of avoidingcensorship. For instance, they replace words alleged to result incensorship with those that are hard to detect, or opt to becomeanonymous social media users. As anonymous social media users, thegovernment may censor content, but the individual may continue topost and escape arrest.
Bamman, D., O’Connor, B & Smith, N. (2012). Censorship andDeletion Practices in Chinese Social Media. First Monday 17,3–5.
King, G., Pan, J & Roberts, M. E. (2013). How censorship in Chinaallows criticism but silences collective expression. AmericanPolitical Science Review, 1-18.
Nathan, A. (2003). Authoritarian Resilience. Journal of Democracy,14 (1), 6–17.
Shirk, S. L. (2011). Changing Media, Changing China. New York:Oxford University Press.
Xiao, Q. (2011). The Rise of Online Public Opinion and Its PoliticalImpact. In Changing Media, Changing China, ed. Susan Shirk.New York: Oxford University Press, 202–24.