“According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, search results for ‘the truth’ cannot be displayed.”
“Truth” appears to have vanished from the Chinese internet, after micro-bloggers discovered the word had been blocked on the country’s leading social-media website.
By Tom Phillips, Shanghai
Online messages began circulating earlier this week claiming that the Chinese characters for “the truth” could not be searched for on the Twitter-like micro-blog, Sina Weibo, which boasts nearly 300 million registered users.
Attempts to search Weibo for “the truth” on Thursday turned up the message: “According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, search results for ‘the truth’ cannot be displayed.”
It is not known how long the term has been blocked or why but one internet-user said they had first noticed the truth was missing in late June. Sina Weibo did not respond to requests for information.
Qi Zhenyu, head of social media for iSun Affairs, a Hong Kong-based current affairs magazine, said it was not clear when censors might allow the truth to return.
“It is not unusual but it is quite ironic this time – you can’t simply block the truth,” said Mr Qi, one of the first to detect truth’s absence.
China is notorious for actively blocking sites such as Facebook and Twitter with its Great Firewall. But social media firms are also required to self-censor as a result of government guidelines and pressure.
Terms blocked in the past include those deemed obscene as well as politically sensitive ones such as “Tiananmen Square” or the name of disgraced politician “Bo Xilai”, whose wife was implicated in the suspected murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.
“Weibo is the most popular social media site in China and as a result suffers the highest level of censorship,” said Mr Qi, whose online magazine is also blocked in mainland China.
“Whenever there is a word that upsets them, they just go ahead and block [but] most of the time you can’t really explain why they censor a certain word.”