A collection of pictures censored on Chinese Twitter-like service Sina Weibo has been revealed.
Analysis from US investigative journalism group ProPublica logged 100 users on the service, discovering a total of 527 images removed by censors.
The sample data – which was collected over two weeks – contained dissidents, a yawning politician, and archive shots from the Korean War.
Sina Weibo has some 500 million users in China, but is closely monitored.
ProPublica selected a group of users that had previously had material removed from the site, with a focus on journalists, lawyers and other figures with significant numbers of followers.
Sina Weibo has some 500 million users in China, but is closely monitored
The site – with help from the University of Hong Kong – wrote some software that would store posts from the users, and then check on an hourly basis to see if the posts had been removed.
What they found was a wide ranging selection of images deemed not suitable for dissemination on the site.
The collection included images of Bo Xilai, the former high-ranking Chinese politician, who was jailed in October for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.
One deleted post had called for the trial to be broadcast live, while another showed Bo Xilai with former US national security adviser Henry Kissinger.
Pictures of other public figures, such as human rights advocate Xu Zhiyong and activist singer Wu Hongfei, were also removed.
A large number of the censored posts monitored were of long passages of text, ProPublica reported.
A service called Long Weibo – comparable to TwitLonger – allows for posts that go beyond the service’s 140-character limit by creating an image showing Chinese characters.
The popularity of Long Weibo has created a censorship headache for authorities as it means banned words are not automatically flagged.
Starbucks has come under fire in China for reportedly charging locals higher prices than in other major markets.
The official China Central Television (CCTV) claimed Starbucks earns higher margins in China due to its pricing.
Starbucks is the latest foreign company to come under scrutiny from Chinese media over its pricing practices.
Earlier this year, Apple and Nestle were also put under pressure to review their prices or customer service.
Starbucks has come under fire in China for reportedly charging locals higher prices than in other major markets
Starbucks is rapidly expanding in China, which is set to overtake Canada as its second-biggest market next year.
In the CCTV report that aired on Sunday, it said a medium-size latte in Beijing costs 27 yuan ($4.43), or about one-third more than at a Starbucks in Chicago.
“Starbucks has been able to enjoy high prices in China, mainly because of the blind faith of local consumers in Starbucks and other Western brands,” Wang Zhendong, director of the Coffee Association of Shanghai, told CCTV.
Starbucks said its prices reflect higher food and logistical costs in China.
The issue became one of the most popular talking points on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, where many users seemed to rally to Starbucks’ side.
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Sina Weibo, China’s biggest Twitter-like microblogging platform, is introducing a membership charge for premium features.
For a monthly fee of 10 yuan ($1.57) its 300 million users can add personalized pages, voice posts and better security, among other services.
The move could help return the firm to profit. It posted a $13.7 million loss for its first quarter in May.
One analyst called it a “bold move”, adding Twitter was unlikely to follow.
Sina Weibo is introducing a total of 15 added VIP features, according to the Tech in Asia blog.
It said the move built on other recent innovations added to the platform including social games and a virtual currency called Weibi.
One Beijing-based business consultant noted the decision to charge fees had followed government pressure on the business to boost efforts to filter out illegal posts by some of its members, increasing its costs.
Sina Weibo, China's biggest Twitter-like microblogging platform, is introducing a membership charge for premium features
“Weibo has become an indispensable tool to Chinese netizens, although some argue of late that it has become less compelling due to the restrictions,” said Duncan Clark, chairman of BDA.
“But for Sina of course ultimately its aim is not to run the service as a charity.
“This could be a tricky situation – if they push too far to monetize they could tarnish their brand, but if they don’t succeed in converting all this traffic to commercial value then it’s ultimately unsustainable in the long term.”
While the move may prove a success for the Chinese firm, independent media analyst Mark Mulligan suggested it would be a mistake for western social networks to follow at this point.
“It’s a very brave move, and I do not think it is likely that Twitter would follow a similar route, certainly not at this stage,” he said.
“In order to start charging for something that people expect to be free, a company has to be very confident of its market position.
“Any social tool faces competition – Facebook has done a lot trying to emulate microblogging with its timeline features. If Twitter tried to [introduce fees], Facebook would capitalise on that and try to implement a much richer set of services entirely free.”
He added that the dynamics were different in China and Sina Weibo might not be afraid of competition since other domestic web giants, such as Tencent and Renren, had also introduced membership fees for some add-on services.
A spokeswoman for Twitter said the firm did not comment on other companies, adding that its business model remained based on advertising.