China Patches Cracks in the Great Firewall ahead of Tiananmen anniversary

Jeff Widener/AP file photo

Instead of censoring, Chinese users' search results are now scrubbed clean of all references to the 1989 protests.

The “June 4 Incident,” which the world outside of China knows as the Tiananmen Square protests, is a forbidden topic within the Great Firewall of China.

In recent years, Beijing’s enormous internet censorship program has taken aim at any words or phrases that could conceivably refer to the government crackdown that killed hundreds or even thousands of protesters in 1989. On the anniversary last year, there were reports that even mentioning the word “today” was banned.

This year the government is getting more sophisticated. The censorship monitoring group reported that users of the popular Twitter-like service Sina Weibo are now able to search for “六四事件”" (“June 4th incident)” and related terms. Instead of receiving a censorship notice, as they had in the past, a page of search results appears—but it is scrubbed clean of all references to the 1989 protests. It’s a move George Orwell would have admired: If users go looking for information, they won’t find anything—and they won’t even know the information is being censored.

Read more at Quartz.