A little background...
It is often said that you can see the Great Wall of China from the space. Turns out it is a myth. But you can surely see China’s Great Firewall from this world map illuminating Facebook traffics.
The gaping hole of darkness, in the land with the world’s largest internet population, shows the impact of China’s internet censorship. The Great Firewall of China (known as GFW) blocks foreign websites, including Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It also monitors internet conversations through keyword filtering.
Despite the odds, tech-savvy users find ways to circumvent the censorship. Many of them jump on Twitter to voice their discontent, share tips on evading the firewall, and to mobilize collective actions. They have formed a community of vocal dissents.
Who are these people? How do they communicate with each other? How does this minority community evolve over time? Will they have any say in charting the future of China's internet freedom? To help you answer these questions, we have created this visualization tool.
Introducing our visualization
Click Static Network to view a static visualization of two Twitter networks: one based on retweeting, and the other based on Twitter replies.
Click Interactive Network to zoom in/out of the Twitter networks and click individual nodes for node-specific information.
Click Trends to view interactive time series charts showing the # of tweets, the degree of virality and the size of potential audience for each keyword/hashtag.
Click Top Actors to view the identities of top 10 influencers and bridges.
Click Community Metrics to view a list of indicators showing how large, cohesive and fragmented this online community is.
About our methodology:
Ideas travel through social networks. Collective actions stem from interconnected crowds. We use social network analysis (SNA) to answer these big-picture questions:
1. Who are the central actors (influencers) in the community?
2. Who reach out to different clusters?
3. Is the community a flat world where ideas bubble up from the bottom or a hierarchical one dominated by powerful actors?
4. Is the community a fragmented world where collective actions are constrained by divisions among different groups of people?
5. How does the community evolve over time?
About data collection:
Our Python script runs every other day to grab tweets from Twitter API. This method captures the entirety of the Twitter conversations we are interested in. Detailed parameters used in the data mining are listed as follows. You can also find all Python scripts used in data grab, cleaning, calculation and visualization.
- Time-frame: 8/24/2015 onward, weekly update
- Keywords/hashtags used: all tweets containing any of the following keywords.
- #fuckgfw (mentioned by news media for its role in activism against censorship)
- 科学上网 (Ke Xue Shang Wang): The Chinese euphemism for circumventing the censorship. It literally means connecting to the internet scientifically
- 翻墙 (Fan Qiang): The Chinese euphemism for circumventing the censorship. It literally means climbing over the wall
- 防火墙 (Fang Huo Qiang): The Chinese word for firewall
Latest update: 12/06/2015 (bi-weekly update)
10/27/2015: V1.1 uses Eigenvector for identifying influencers.
-- Funding provided by the Center for Global Communication Studies of the University of Pennsylvania - Annenberg (www.global.asc.upenn.edu)