Workshop Proceedings of the 17th International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media

Workshop: Workshop on Data for the Wellbeing of Most Vulnerable

DOI: 10.36190/2023.06

Published: 2023-06-01
Unveiling the dynamics of censorship, COVID-19 regulations, and protest: An Empirical Study of Chinese Subreddit r/china irl
Siyi Zhou, Luca Luceri, Emilio Ferrara

The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified numerous social issues that warrant academic investigation. Although information dissemination has been extensively studied, the silenced voices and censored content also merit attention due to their role in mobilizing social movements. In this paper, we provide empirical evidence to explore the relationships among COVID-19 regulations, censorship, and protest through a series of social incidents occurred in China during 2022. We analyze the similarities and differences between censored articles and discussions on r/china irl, the most popular Chinese-speaking subreddit, and scrutinize the temporal dynamics of government censorship activities and their impact on user engagement within the subreddit. Furthermore, we examine users’ linguistic patterns under the influence of a censorship- driven environment. Our findings reveal patterns in topic recurrence, the complex interplay between censorship activities, user subscription, and collective commenting behavior, as well as potential linguistic adaptation strategies to circumvent censorship. These insights hold significant implications for researchers interested in understanding the survival mechanisms of marginalized groups within censored information ecosystems.