China's We Chat "shadow-bans" messages with forbidden keywords, but only for China-based accounts


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Wow that must be frustrating.

"Did you get my message?
"The one about the weather?
"No, the one about the Party leader

"I said no, the one about the Party leader

"Yea the weather’s been nice


Gonna have to start speaking in code.


Yea kids have been doing that since the chat rooms of the eighties. But there, you can see what was bleeped out and adjust. With this new innovation, you don’t even know they didn’t hear you, and you don’t know which word tripped the filter! It can still be defeated, but it’s much harder.


(post withdrawn by author, will be automatically deleted in 24 hours unless flagged)


Was it actually withdrawn ??? Will @ficuswhisperer know it was withdrawn. What will we become?


Do it light, taking me through the night
Shadow banning, baby you do it right
Give me more, drag me across the floor
Shadow banning, all this and nothing more


Stick an ascending number at the start of all your messages. If the sequence is interrupted…


Right, until those numbers are banned!


Then use consecutive quotes from Mao’s collected works. The party won’t ban Mao’s writings, will they?

Well, they might. The catholic church used to ban the Bible, after all, so everything’s possible.


Too much meta!


Discussing whether something is too much meta is definitely not meta enough for my tastes.


The Chinese have doing that for a while. Here’s a recent WP story on it:

BEIJING — Be careful of having the water meter checked in your country in this Dama era.

The sentence may sound like nonsense, but in China, it’s Internet code for having the police knocking at your door in this time of heavy government controls.

Just as new words are being added to the English language all the time — the Oxford English Dictionary this year added “twerking” and “sext” — so, too, is Chinese evolving, although for very different reasons.

Chinese netizens are finding all sorts of creative ways to avoid the censors’ filters, coming up with a whole new vocab to talk about sensitive subjects. Many of them require only a slight tweak in tone to sound like something entirely different.


We never did use shadowbanning at MetaFilter but we did have this one thing where if you tried to get in to the site, all requests from your IP to MeFi would get redirected to

Good times.


You could shadow ban people but instead of giving them no feedback you could give them lots of machine-generated positive feedback from what appear to be actual other users. Then you could—shit! Now I wonder if that’s not already happening.


What a constructive comment [ERROR: STRING “username” NOT FOUND]. I look forward to more constructive discourse with you at [DATE, TIME]


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