PhD Proposal Defense by Chaya Hiruncharoenvate

Event Details
  • Date/Time:
    • Tuesday March 15, 2016 - Wednesday March 16, 2016
      2:00 pm - 3:59 pm
  • Location: GVU Cafe (TSRB, 2nd floor)
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Summary Sentence: Understanding and Circumventing Censorship on Chinese Social Media

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Dr. Eric Gilbert, School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Tech (Advisor)

Dr. Amy Bruckman, School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Tech

Dr. Munmun De Choudhury, School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Tech

Dr. Keith Edwards, School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Tech

Dr. Margaret E. Roberts, Department of Political Science, University of California, San Diego




Chinese Internet users not only face with the most technologically advanced filtering system in the world: the Great Firewall of China, but also are under the watchful eyes of the repressive government who controls every layer of their communications. Although social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are blocked in China, Chinese Internet users have the local replicas such as Sina Weibo, Renren, and WeChat to communicate with others. However, these sites employ both advanced keyword detection algorithms and human censors to filter inappropriate content. While previous research has explored and unveiled the technology behind the censorship mechanisms, little work has focused on Chinese social media users’ perspectives on censorship and the effect of censorship on their online behaviors. In my work, I propose to bridge this gap by conducting both qualitative and quantitative studies to gain deeper understanding of these issues.


Although Chinese social media is under tight censorship, activists have employed homophones of censored keywords to avoid detection by keyword matching algorithms. My completed work has shown that it is possible to scale this idea up in ways that make it difficult to defend against. Specifically, I have developed a non-deterministic algorithm for generating homophones that create large numbers of false positives for censors, making it difficult to locate banned conversations. Extending from this work, I propose to implement this algorithm into a real-time system of which Chinese social media users can make use to easily detect and replace censored keywords with homophones.


Overall, the contributions of my research bridge the areas of Internet censorship and censorship circumvention technology by providing deeper understanding of the effects of censorship on users’ online behaviors and exploring the ameliorating effects circumvention tools have on social media users’ perspective on censorship and social media use.

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Graduate Studies

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PhD proposal defense
  • Created By: Jacquelyn Strickland
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Mar 9, 2016 - 6:30am
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 10:16pm