“Good" Censor vs. “Bad" Censor---The Effects of Perceived Censorship Attempt Initiated by Different Sources on Censorship acceptance, Rumor Processing, and Evaluation of Government among Chinese Netizens

Sijia Yang, Ph.D. Student, Annenberg School of Communication, University of Pennsylvania 
| CSCC Conference Room, Fisher-Bennett Hall 345

China’s virtual public sphere is susceptible to negative consequences of low-quality information and online censorship. The censorship policy as currently adopted and constantly reinforced by the Chinese government might inadvertently encourage more internalization and re-transmission of ungrounded rumors. Meanwhile, since online censorship is for the most part implemented by commercial Internet service providers (e.g. Sina.com), the aura of credibility they enjoy might render the act of censorship and censored rumors acceptable to Internet users. The consequences for “acceptable” censorship are bifurcated: on one hand, it could help with curbing the spreading of potentially false information; on the other hand, strategic contracting with credible non-government agents to carry out censorship would make it difficult to hold the government accountable for information transparency. Evidences regarding the effects of censorship sources from a randomized experiment conducted in China will be presented and discussed in the talk.