How Internet Censorship Is Driving Innovation In China


People are not surprised to hear that social media habits in China differ from the US. Often, People equate the differences in China’s web and the web in the US to Chinese censorship. However, this is an overly simplistic view of the respective cultures.  The differences have far more to do with long standing historical differences that shape the cultural values people bring to the table when they go online.

In On! The Future of Now, Tricia Wang looks at the ways that the economic reforms in the late 70’s, where friends and neighbors turned on one another, shaped the desire for anonymity online. Additionally, she looks at the ways that censorship has driven innovation on Chinese social networks. “The constraints of censorship force people to come up with news ways of getting around things,” Tricia explains. “One of the most transformative effects of social media in China is that its created a space where people are able to talk to each other and interact anonymously.” Through a case study of China, Tricia emphasizes the need to develop a rich and nuanced understanding of culture when entering a new market or engaging a new community.

*This post is part of a series highlighting personal stories and key themes from our new book, On! The Future of Now. Order your copy of On! The Future of now here. Proceeds to support Charity: Water.


About Tricia Wang

Tricia Wang is a tech ethnographer transforming how organizations understand people and conduct research. A Fulbright Fellow and National Science Foundation Fellow, Tricia has been recognized as a leading authority for her work specializing in integrating balanced data practices to fulfill business and institutional goals that improve people’s lives. Learn more about Tricia here.

About On! The Future of Now

Published in partnership with Nokia and curated by Toby Daniels and Craig Hepburn, On! The Future of Now is a collection of essays and personal stories from leading thinkers, including best-selling author and entrepreneur Seth Godin; Cindy Gallop, founder of Make Love Not Porn; Jonah Peretti, founder and CEO of BuzzFeed and Leah Busque, founder of TaskRabbit. On! The Future of Now is available in eBook and paperback. To buy the book and support Charity: Water, click here.

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