Recently uploaded onto the twitterverse were two word documents (this one and this one) purporting to be a list of SMS words banned by China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom. The three telecommunications companies had announced their plans to monitor text messages for “bad content” this time last year, but the implications of that went unnoticed for most of 2010.
So it’s interesting to see an actual listing of what may be the words on the SMS “black list.” I say may be because there’s some doubt to whether these words are actually anything close to an official black list, or if they were just compiled by netizens gleefully supposing what the relevant bureaus would want to censor. For one, the word “fuck” appears more than once on the list – does that mean you have to write “fuck” twice before the censors step in… or was it just an oopsie of bad editing?
Also, some of the words are almost too ridiculous to possibly be on any list. I understand wanting to block out 牛B for being a swear word and the many iterations of FLG (there are at least 20 on the list), but 日本 (Japan)? CDMA? China Telecom’s full name in Chinese? Even the GFW isn’t that specific: it can’t be. Nothing would be able to get texted ever.
To test the list out, I tried texting various friends with two text messages comprised of banned terms – “Bignews playboy fuck peacehall simple sex” and “温家宝 法论 红灯区 胡锦涛.” Both went through and were sent back as confirmation.
But perhaps I just don’t understand the algorithm surrounding the actual blacklisting of words from this text list. After all, the original report on the SMS banned words list said there would be 13 criteria relating to whether a message was “unhealthy.” Those 13 criteria were never revealed. Maybe it has to be in an actual sentence? Maybe they only blacklist you when you’ve texted the words multiple times?
Anyone who’s willing to risk getting their phone shut off ought to experiment – it’d be good to know what exactly you can get away with.