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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix 1 Introduction 1 1.1 The Puzzle of Porous Censorship 1 1.2 Distraction and Diversion 4 1.3 Implications and Challenges to ConventionalWisdom 10 1.4 The Plan of the Book 17 2 A Theory of Censorship 21 2.1 Why Do Governments Censor? 21 2.2 Citizens Are Rationally Ignorant 26 2.3 Traditional Media Care about Story Costs 32 2.4 Citizens Exchange Low-Cost Information Through Social Media 34 2.5 What Is Censorship? 37 2.6 The Mechanisms of Censorship 41 2.7 Fear 44 2.8 Friction 56 2.9 Flooding 80 2.10 Conclusion 92 3 Censorship in China 93 3.1 Modern History of Information Control in China 94 3.2 Censorship of the Chinese Internet 104 4 Reactions to Experience with Censorship 113 4.1 China's Targeted Censorship Strategy 117 4.2 The Costs of Observable Censorship 121 4.3 Matched Comparison of Censored and Uncensored Social Media Users 122 4.4 An Experimental Study of Consumers of Social Media 137 4.5 Conclusion 145 5 The Powerful Influence of Information Friction 147 5.1 The Effects of Content Filtering on the Spread of Information 152 5.2 Structural Frictions and the Great Firewall 162 5.3 When Does Friction Fail? 182 5.4 Conclusion 187 6 Information Flooding: Coordination as Censorship 190 6.1 What Effect Can Propaganda Have in the Digital Age? 195 6.2 Flooding in China 199 6.3 Detection of Information Flooding in Newspapers and Online Media 201 6.4 The Influence of Flooding on the Spread of Information 215 6.5 Conclusion 221 7 Implications for a Digital World 223 7.1 Why Porous Censorship Matters 224 7.2 Authoritarian Resilience 227 7.3 Implications for Free Speech in Democracies 230 7.4 A Call for Future Research 232 8 Appendix 237 8.1 Description of the China Urban Governance Survey 237 8.2 Words Related to Censorship, Mutual Information 237 8.3 Tibet Self-Immolations Negative Binomial Model 241 Works Cited 243 Index 261

About the Author

Margaret E. Roberts is assistant professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego.


"[T]he clearest and most convincing explanation of how information is controlled in today's China."---Ian Johnson, New York Review of Books
"Co-winner of the 2019 Goldsmith Book Prize for Academic Books, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School"
"[A] groundbreaking book . . . although it wears Roberts's deep knowledge lightly, Censored represents the current state of the art in Chinese internet studies. . . . This book is a must-read for anyone who cares about the free flow of information."---Jonathan Sullivan, New Scientist
"One of Foreign Affairs' Picks for Best of Books 2018"

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