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Adolf Xitler, CoronaXi: The President Xi nicknames China censors online

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A 143-page document obtained by US-based news website China Digital Times revealed that Adolf Xitler, CoronaXi, and Winnie the Pooh are among over 500 nicknames for China’s President Xi Jinping not allowed on Instagram-like social media site Xiaohongshu.

According to the documents, the social media site scanned satirical videos, memes, and negative comments about the president, and found 564 nicknames related to him, in only two months in 2020. Without the government’s intervention, the social media site began removing the nicknames.

Aside from Xi’s nicknames, the document also revealed that content moderators flagged sensitive news articles that could go viral. They then identified keywords to censor, so that the app’s automated filters could flag content more effectively.

“I had never heard of such a thing when I was working at Weibo in 2011. We only took orders and deleted things accordingly, instead of making predictions based on sensitive topics,” Eric Liu, a former content moderator currently working at China Digital Times, told VICE World News.

The documents also revealed the social media site’s protocols, including a cross-checking step. After removing certain content, moderators identify keywords from the deleted content and perform a second screening to make sure nothing will slip through the cracks.

According to Liu, the cross-checking is a way for the social media platform to keep up with the ever-changing censorship demands of the Chinese government.

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