Behind the Great Firewall

New research uncovers {npr} what may at first seems like a counterintuitive finding about censorship in China—but when comparing to tech-fueled uprisings like the Arab Spring—seems shrewd and obvious:

[Harvard University social scientist Gary] King has just completed two studies that peer into the Chinese censorship machine — including a field experiment within China that was conducted with extraordinary secrecy. Together, the studies refute popular intuitions about what Chinese censors are after.

The censors actually permit “vitriolic criticism” of China’s leaders and governmental policies, King and his colleagues — Jennifer Pan and Margaret Roberts — found. But the censors crack down heavily on any move to get people physically mobilized to act on such criticism.