Mainland censors blow out candles on social media - RTHK
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Mainland censors blow out candles on social media

2017-07-14 HKT 15:19
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  • Policemen stop foreign journalists from filming in front of the Shenyang  where Liu Xiaobo died. Photo: AFP
    Policemen stop foreign journalists from filming in front of the Shenyang where Liu Xiaobo died. Photo: AFP
The mainland censors raced Friday to scrub social media networks of candles, RIP and other tributes to Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo as they seek to silence discussion about the prominent dissident's death.

A search for news of his death on search engine Baidu turned up no results and micro-blogging service Weibo blocked the use of his name and initials "LXB".

Even the most obscure homages to Liu on Weibo were removed. One user who posted "RIP" was advised it had been deleted "because it violated relevant laws and regulations" – even though the post did not mention the activist by name.

RIP is now among the search terms blocked on the mainland’s social media networks. Grieving users who had posted candle emojis on Weibo saw them erased. When accessing Weibo on a personal computer the symbol is no longer among the emoticon options.

On the Weibo mobile app, however, the candle was still available but attempts to post it were blocked and triggered a message saying "content is illegal!".

The Chinese word for "candle" is also barred. Social media sites have been cleaned of comments praising the dissident.

"He is the brave one for this time. The history will remember him whether alive or dead," one user said in a Weibo post that was later deleted.

Another said: "You, who was just freed, made the world different; we, those who are still in prison, salute you."

Not all online posts were sympathetic to Liu. The state-run Global Times daily posted on its Weibo account: "The deceased has gone and people are playing a magnificent show pretending to be sad. We are a group of onlookers eating watermelon for one night."

The post has been removed but screenshots of it have been widely shared. (AFP)