“Your post is inappropriate”

On April 11, 2014, the day a Chinese court upheld a four-year jail sentence for lawyer Xu Zhiyong, the founder of the New Citizens Movement, I posted the following Chinese passage from Xu on Sina Weibo.

公民们,就让我们从现在开始吧。无论你身在何处,无论你从事何种职业,无论你贫穷还是富裕,让我们在内心深处,在现实生活中,在互联网上,在中华大地的每一寸土地上,坚定而自豪地说出本来属于我们的身份: 我是公民,我们是公民.

Citizens, let us begin from this moment. No matter where you are, no matter what your profession, rich or poor, let us in the depths of our hearts, in our daily lives, on the internet, and on every inch of this vast land, firmly and loudly declare the identity that rightfully belongs to us: I am a citizen; we are citizens.

The post was removed minutes later, and I was sent the following personal message from Sina:

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Hello, you have been informed on by another user for violation of regulations. According to Sina Weibo Community Management Regulations, your post made on April 11, 2014, at 11:39:37, “Citizens, let us begin from this moment …” has already been designated as inappropriate for public sharing.

I was directed to a “Help Center” that listed out questions any user whose post suffered a similar fate might wish to ask. Like this one:

Why have I been notified that I’ve said something I can’t?

Answer:

In order to provide users with a clean Weibo environment, if your Weibo account is disciplined because it was found to have violated the Sina Weibo Community Regulations or relevant laws, regulations or policies, you might result in your inability to make subsequent posts. The specific time of the punishment will generally be sent to you by private notice. You are advised to check your private inbox to confirm. In order to avoid this situation happening again, we advise you to share healthy and upright Weibo content.


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