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A Shutterstock spokesperson confirmed to The Intercept that a censorship feature is currently active. (Picture: Shutterstock)

Shutterstock censors sensitive search terms for China

Terms such as “President Xi” or “umbrella movement” are banned

This article originally appeared on ABACUS
US-based stock image site Shutterstock is censoring search terms that are deemed sensitive by the Chinese government. The keyword blacklist, first reported by  The Intercept, came into effect last month and applies to users with a mainland China IP address.

We tested search terms such as “President Xi,” “Chairman Mao,” “Taiwan flag,” “dictator,” “yellow umbrella,” and “umbrella movement”. None of them yield any results. The last two terms refer to the pro-democracy protests that gripped Hong Kong for nearly three months in 2014.

A Shutterstock spokesperson told The Intercept that the company is “bound to local laws.” The system reportedly went into effect last month, and Shutterstock was previously blocked by the Great Firewall.
In September, Abacus found that Apple’s GIF search function also won’t get results for certain search terms, such as “China,” “Chinese,” “Xinjiang” or “Falun Gong.” Bizarrely, we could still find images related to “Tiananmen” and “Tibet.” Apple declined to comment.

For more insights into China tech, sign up for our tech newsletters, subscribe to our Inside China Tech podcast, and download the comprehensive 2019 China Internet Report. Also roam China Tech City, an award-winning interactive digital map at our sister site Abacus.