Infographic: Iran’s Censorship of Wikipedia

by    /  December 21, 2013  / No comments


Using proxy servers in Iran, researchers Collin Anderson and Nima Nazeri scanned 800,000 Persian language Wikipedia articles. Every blocked article was identified and blocked pages were divided into ten categories to determine the type of content to which state censors are most adverse. In total, 963 blocked articles were found, covering a range of socio-political and sexual content including politics, journalism, the arts, religion, sex, sexuality, and human rights. Censors repeatedly targeted Wikipedia pages about government rivals, minority religious beliefs, and criticisms of the state, officials, and the police. Just under half of the blocked Wiki-pages are biographies, including pages about individuals the authorities have allegedly detained or killed. Based on prior research, it is known that Iran’s Internet filtration relies on blacklists of specifically designated URLs and URL keywords. Keyword filtration blindly blocks pages that contain prohibited character patterns in the URL. Sexual content is the main target of keywords, for example most keywords are sexual and/or profane terms. We found dozens of pages that seem to be unintentionally censored by keyword filtering, meaning that they were misidentified as sexual or profane and contained no content likely to offend Iranian authorities.

Download Citation Filtered: Iran’s Censorship of Wikipedia, a study by the Iran Media Program.

This article was originally published by CGCS Media Wire on 7 November 2013.

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