Tech entrepreneur and founder of various social media aggregation services Zheng Yun offers the following advice for anyone with a China website who wants to prevent it from getting shut down. His tweets were compiled by Wan Feng and translated by ChinaDigitalTimes:
Many people ask why we don’t hire a few – albeit part-time – employees to delete sensitive posts and avoid site closure. I’ll give a complete answer here. Any large-scale site can guarantee the deleting of sensitive information within an hour after receiving a call, e-mail or instant message from the management department. This is easily done. There is no unmanageable problem that will result in (the Communist Party) shutting the site down (Shutting down a site is an incredibly severe punishment. The Party won’t take up such wrathful means. They will first warn you and make you rectify the problem. They are actually very patient).
Every site has a crucial black list of banned words. Sensitive information that is already known is automatically deleted or blocked. But this cannot guarantee that sudden incidents such as the “Shishou Mass Incident” or the “Deng Yujiao Incident” will quickly enter into the black list. Nevertheless, this is still considered okay. The authorities, after all, will actively call you and request that you thoroughly delete all related posts.
Every kind of authoritative department in the Party (excluding the police department) is quite patient, especially the News Office and the Internet Management Office. They try their best to help both sides save a little face. Whether it’s via e-mail or over the phone, government agencies are always polite. One must go a few rounds with them before they expose their fangs. Only when they are substantially challenged, or when the higher levels of the National Information Office or the Bureau of Communication Management are angered, will a site meet with instant death.
The lethal question lies with them asking you to exercise self-discipline. What’s self-discipline? Surpassing the Great Firewall and looking at all sorts of reactionary media, paying close attention to current affairs, especially hyped social incidents, which are instrumentally taken by the reactionary media to attack the Party. Once these are discovered, you must take control of your site and quickly delete the corresponding hot issues, topics and essays.
If you can’t delete these things before authorities give their command, you’ll be forgiven once or twice. After all, you need a learning curve. But if this continues you’ll be asked to join them for tea. If you have tea with them many times, you will be scrutinized and reported to higher levels. In the event of a big incident, if the authorities once again discover large quantities of sensitive material on your site – okay – your site will be closed (the plug will be pulled, your computers will be taken, your domain will be closed).
Many people, including journalists, wonder why these sites (even big sites) are instantly killed. Even they can’t say clearly why this happens. The Party’s online management system is quite mature. All levels report upward and there is an approval process. Before you are put before a firing squad, there are many who will work to dissuade them from doing this. Yet representing the Party’s managing skills is the fact that some things are no match for the thunderous fury of some leaders. When the command of a powerful leader comes down through the ranks, all processes disappear in a puff of smoke.
Some people think having the plug pulled is very serious but this is actually a moderate punishment. Because after you promptly delete the information (It’s best you are disconnected from other supporting servers to prevent not being able to delete the information remotely) and you inform the Internet data center, you can regain your Internet connection. Many stumble at the point because they either don’t know what to delete or they don’t know how to delete it (not being able to control information remotely equals an inability to reconnect)… [read the entire post here]