Those monitoring Chinese websites noted that searches for the word Ferrari had disappeared from results overnight.
It has been reported that the government wanted to restrict the public from learning the identities of those involved in a Ferrari car crash on Sunday, as well as impede speculation spreading over the internet that it may have involved a party official’s son.
On Weibo, which is the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, all posts which discussed the accident had been deleted, but banning searches for the crash only proved to increase the public’s interest.
Car accidents involving lavish cars have recently captured interest in China, where luxurious cars have become a symbol of inequality and the divide between the rich elite and the rest of the country.
“My father is Li Gang!’’ is a phrase which has become ”a notorious and bitter catchphrase for shirking responsibility” after a deputy police chief’s son used it after killing a girl whilst speeding drunk in his car. The story was subsequently removed from the media.
The Great Firewall
Though the crash is insignificant to most, it represents however how the extent of censorship in China has spread.
The government have blocked access to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube amongst other sites, as well as filtering and temporarily banning some in relation to political situations at the time.
The censors have the ability to control all the information the Chinese public have access to, known as the Great Firewall of China, and even individual words and phrases.
What other phrases are forbidden?
- 64 – banned as it represents the month and day of the crackdown in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
- Democracy – the term is regimentally filtered and any political groups which use the word are blocked on search engines.
- Warlord – censored as the term is reminiscent of power struggles in the 1930s.
- Jasmine – to stop the term ‘jasmine revolution’ becoming a reference to a possible Chinese equivalent of the Arab Spring.
- Iodized salt – this was banned after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, to repress rumours that it can prevent radiation poisoning.
- Occupy – the Chinese cannot read up on the Occupy movement, an international protest directed towards social and economic inequality.
Since Friday, the government have also implemented control over the microblogging website Weibo which is used by 300 million people.
Users are now required to provide their full real name and mobile telephone number in order to become verified to use the site. The government has said the new rules have been implemented in order to prevent people from spreading unfounded rumours.
The censers also keep a close eye on internet blogs which have become a channel to criticise the government and mock their policies. It is also said the government have begun to pay bloggers to include pro-government content on their established and respected blogging sites.