Net Nanny Follies

Oddities in the Green Dam filtered words list

Green Dam Girl: policing Internet content

With the July 1 deadline for installation of the Green Dam-Youth Escort content filter fast approaching, Internet users inside and outside China continue to pick apart the software's security and the scope of its filtering.

Analysts have uncovered lists of sensitive words (some are available on WikiLeaks) that concern the software's stated target, vulgar and pornographic content, as well as other sensitive areas such as politics and the Fаlun Gοng.

Lists of sensitive words used by other software programs and websites on the mainland frequently contain some fairly strange terms, and Green Dam is no exception. The software even seems to want to filter out articles critical of topics frowned upon by the Chinese government.

Fang Zhouzi, an anti-fraud activist who has written extensively against Fаlun Gοng, posted some interesting results in a blog post, translated below:

Green Dam's baffling filtered words

by Fang Zhouzi

Computer security experts at the University of Michigan unlocked Green Dam's list of filtered words. The list is primarily made up of sensitive words related to sex and politics, and although it's not as strange as the other sensitive word list that has been circulated online, there are still a few places that I don't understand.

1. The list includes common terms like "essence" (本质), "fallacies and heresies" (歪理邪说), "Cat-III" (三级), "naked" (裸露), and "homosexuality" (同性恋). "Fallacies and heresies" is likely a politically-sensitive term, and the three at the end are sexually-sensitive terms, but I can't even imagine what "essence" counts as. I've had these words appear in my non-sexual, non-political writing, so does that mean that the websites that host those articles will be zapped? And Green Dam monitors word processing in addition to Internet access, so does this mean that if these common terms appear in a Word document, the draft will suddenly get deleted without so much as warning you to save it? Does this mean that from now on, the word "essence" can no longer appear in primary and secondary school essays, and that these terms must be removed from textbooks and dictionaries?

2. The list also includes the strange term fanyu (梵欲), which I've never even heard of. I thought it might be some new sex term, but after Googling it I found only a few pages that contained it, a little over 100. The majority of those were Buddhist scriptures, and not even a single one was sexually- or politically-sensitive. So why filter this peculiar term? If it was a typo, then isn't that just a little bit careless for a piece of software that's going to go out to hundreds of millions of users?

3. To no one's surprise, most of the filtered words on the list concern cult organizations, but many of the listed terms criticize or attact the cult and its leader. For example, "The anti-science character of Fa XX", "The anti-society character of Fa XX", "The fallacies and heresies of Fa XX", "Fa XX foments hatred", "Fa XX is an evil cult", "an illegal organization like Fa XX", "Li XX is an exceptionally greedy man", "Li XX's henchmen", "Li XX cheats his followers", "Exposing Li XX's true form", and "Li XX, who misleads the people with heresies". If a website preserves those old articles issued by the government criticizing cults, will it be zapped? Why don't they want everyone in the country to be able to read articles criticizing cults and their leaders? Could the 'lun have been involved in drawing up the list of filtered words?

Fang's blog post uses XX to obscure sensitive words whose presence would probably have it deleted from Sina and other blog portals on the mainland, but you can find the full terms on the uncensored XYS forums, which are hosted overseas.

The image in this post comes from a series featuring the Green Dam Girl, a crusader who carries a rabbit (the software's mascot), wears a River Crab badge, and holds a bucket of paint to wipe out online filth. See more of the images at Hecaitou's blog.

Until the entry was deleted, Green Dam Girl was briefly part of Baidu's encyclopedia (screen shot) under the name "Greendam" (格林达姆), or GD. The entry included the line, "Reports indicate that Greendam may have foreign ancestry," in reference to allegations that Green Dam lifted some of its code and wordlists from Solid Oak Software's CyberSitter filtering program.

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There are currently 9 Comments for Oddities in the Green Dam filtered words list.

Comments on Oddities in the Green Dam filtered words list

According to the Hecaitou blog, the bucket GreenDam girl carries is actually a soy-sauce pot (酱油壶).

Nothing should be filtered, period. I once imagined that China would change, that it was on its way to freedoms unimagined. But not anymore. This article seems to find the content blocking slightly humorous. I don't see any reason to be jovial about the issue at all. What should be asked is not "why did they block this sentence?" but "do I condone the use of force against someone who searches for these sentences?" I, for one, do not, and am leaving China.

Its not a suitable solution for everyone, though, is it? Two billion people cant *all* leave China. And anyway, if all those leave who care about freedom, nobody is left to fight for it.

(Not a criticism, BTW. I can fully sympathize with those who want to get out.)

come on i'm a Chinese and i know situation in china more clearly than you
we Chinese are optimistic and humorous
we admit we are unsatisfied with some gov's policies, but we still have some rectitude officers situation about human rights in china isn't as terrible as some media says (maybe they just want to earn more money by talking about china)
the software green dam is failure, but Chinese netizens are clever enough to turn it into success by creating green dam girl
"home geeks" in china all love this cute girl

Luke, you don't understand. The subject is "Oddities in the Green Dam filtered words list", not human rights. The article questions why certain words and phrases are prohibited, a subject you have not answered. The article also notes the origins of the Green Dam Girl, not as to whether she's cute or not. You say you are Chinese (we know that, we can tell from your writing and lack of punctuation) and can not but bring up the subject of human rights (the comments before yours were about censorship), saying the situation is exaggerated by the foreign press. Like almost all mainland Chinese you insist on telling us how we foreigners are wrong, how we foreigners misunderstand, and of course cannot resist any chance like this to defend the present situation and also tell us how clever Chinese are.

i feel sorry that i didn't read the article carefully
that's because i have almost been driven mad by some supporters of Fаlun Gong (a group of psychotics)
i have also heard about it it's said that netizens got the **** list easily and said "'sex, penis, beasts...'are written on green dam girl's blue-and -white underwear" in a novel Hah, what a "does not make sense" event
so,i got to know that some foreigners can understand us and become a true friend

you can understand Chinese?! I love green dam girl too! but now, we can't search the picture and article in Chinese webside...exempli gratia: Baidu(百度)and chinese google(中国谷歌).

I feel sad,green dam girl,is only one personate character made by chinese people...
green dam girl just a cartoon character, but government think this is mocking of "green dam project".

searching 梵欲 on, one of the first results is the following:

陳日君:台知梵欲「斷交」 [2006-04-27]

梵 is short for 梵蒂冈 (Vatican), 欲 is the 书面 for 想、打算.

I am Chinese by birth and I am fully aware of the government attempts to control the population. It is unfortunate that their continued barrage will, over time, likely lead to a completely different understanding of history by the time future generations are in their prime. Does the good of the many outweigh the good of the few? If this is true, then the CCP's deceitful tactics and violations of rights are merely an unfortunate mean to a happier end, when a large part of Chinese society will experience a higher quality of life. I for one, from a purely rational point of view, am willing to accept the exploitation of some for my own comfort and well-being. This is the way of all successful societies. If we waste our time caring about every single person's problems, we will never progress.

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