The cost of humour: Political satire on social media and censorship in China


*Corresponding author for this work

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27 Citations (Scopus)


On the basis of interviews with several of the most well-known political satirists in China and content analysis of a corpus of satirical texts, this study demonstrates how censorship has been strengthened since the creation of the State Internet Information Office in 2011. It also examines censorship's different forms and its impact on individuals. The Chinese government imposes mainstream censorship policies on social media, and it is impossible for political satirists to avoid the 'red line' to lower political risk. The threat of censorship causes political satirists to self-censor, abandon their creations and reduce their output. The influence of those who continue to work is diminished because the government controls all Chinese social media platforms. However, political satire still has strong vitality thanks to collective action, such as the anonymous production, distribution and sharing of work on Chinese social media. The future of political satire on social media depends on whether the race between netizens and censors continues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-138
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal Media and Communication
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Censorship
  • China
  • political participation
  • political satire
  • social media


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