People's Daily

Data Visualization

Personal Class Project

Oct -Dec 2018

Visualizing the government control of media in China

The challenge

Visualize the landscape or the context around #MeToo through data modeling.

Demonstrate why visualizing #MeToo matters by gathering and communicating a design solution in visual, physical, and material form.

1. TESTING MY ASSUMPTIONS THROUGH THE POWER OF VISUALIZATION

China is famous for controlling the news. Many know it but can’t really see it happening. To prove our assumptions, (assumptions being; the color, tone, and manner of the images used on the news will differ from what they portray to the public in China from the rest of the world) we collected images from People’s Daily, a prominent Chinese government-owned online news portal, to analyze how the government-controlled the news.

 

We collected images from August to October to see if there was a difference in the way the government uses colors to send different messages to the Chinese public versus English readers.

 

From our research, we were able to see the color blue being used a lot more in the English version of People’s Daily. Most of the blue pictures were about military power, industrial growth, and diplomatic refutes of what the international community thinks of China (such as the lack of human rights and democracy).

map-01.png

2. MAPPING THE HISTORY TO PROBLEM

To dig deeper we mapped out the history of the internet control to China. We saw that the government takes three main approaches in controlling the online media.

 

1. Delete: Delete the post and comments 

2. Ban: Ban the entire context

ex) Winnie the Pooh was used as a metaphor to make fun of Xi, the current Chinese President. In 2013, the classic character of Winnie the Pooh was banned for a while. And now, it is illegal to use any of the images or words that are related to Pooh.

3. Warnings and Threats: Officials come to your house to ask questions about your actions. At worst, like the infamous contemporary artist Ai Wei Wei, you can be put into house arrest.

3.MAPPING THE PUBLIC RESPONSE TO THE CONTROL

At the beginning of 2018 #MeToo was widely spread throughout many of the Chinese social media platforms. Through our data collection, we were able to see that the number of people coming out as victims and supporters of #MeToo only grew after the government’s attempt to control. We were also able to see the different ways people utilized the internet language (such as emojis, dialects, links, and images) to avoid censorship. For example, the hashtag #richbunny, which is pronounced “mi-tu”, was a nickname given to the #MeToo campaign by Chinese social media users. By mapping the #MeToo in China, it was evident that the voice of the people can never be silenced.

metoo-03.png

“To explode in silence or to die in silence.”

- Luxun

4. A POSSIBLE SOLUTION

To give power back to the people we wanted to create a platform that archives the history and progression of social media movements such as #Metoo.  To keep the momentum going, even in the midst of frequent interventions from the government, we wanted to design a user experience that provides real-time information on how to create new hashtags. The public will see trending topics on current social issues and will be able to view different ways on how to avoid censorship.

metoo-04.png