FreeWeibo (自由微博)
Type of site
Available inSimplified Chinese/English
LaunchedOctober 2012[1]

FreeWeibo (Chinese: 自由微博) is a website that monitors and makes available content from leading Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo that has been censored and deleted by Chinese authorities under the Great Firewall.[2] The home page is constantly updated to show the latest most-censored Weibo content.[3]

The site allows searches for any deleted microblogging strings and content, such as the names of dissidents, "64", "tiananmen", dalai (as in Dalai Lama, specifically the 14th Dalai Lama), "Xinjiang independence", "Winnie the Pooh", and terms related to any breaking news deemed sensitive. In addition, there are many terms relating to advertising content, pornography and so on.[4]


The founder of the site goes by the name "Martin Johnson". According to Deutsche Welle, he describes his mission as: breaking Chinese Internet censorship and creating a free Internet. The establishment of the FreeWeibo site specifically targets system-deleted posts on Sina Weibo, Twitter, and other large community websites,[2] since around 12 percent of all posts for other Weibo platforms are removed by censors.[5]


The United States magazine Quartz reported that one of the three founders of the site, "Charlie Smith", said out of concern about the CCP's censorship, they established in 2011 the Chinese website GreatFire with the aim to provide a resource to clearly show what was blocked.[6]


"Martin Johnson" said that, like all major sites in China, Sina Weibo employs its own censors. They would manually remove content deemed sensitive, as automatic filtering cannot catch all such posts. Many comments are live for a few minutes or even hours before they are reviewed and deleted, so FreeWeibo makes use of this loophole and collect those posts. "Charlie Smith" said that they copy every Sina Weibo post, but this approach requires a huge storage capacity. According to the Deutsche Welle report, to access the FreeWeibo page from within China, people must use VPN software to bypass the authorities.[6]


In the Quartz report, "Charlie Smith" expected to defeat the censorship system with FreeWeibo. He said he would continue to pressure the Chinese government until they give up the practice.[6][7]

Mobile app

On October 4, 2013, the outfit released an app version of the site in the Chinese Apple App Store in a collaboration with Radio Netherlands Worldwide. However, under pressure from the Government of China, Apple took down the app on November 28.[8][9]


Notes and references

  1. ^ Free Weibo Gives You Totally Uncensored Sina Weibo Search,, Oct 12, 2012
  2. ^ a b "不受屏蔽的「自由微博」". Deutsche Welle. 2013-05-17. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
  3. ^ "中國再度打擊網絡「謠言」可搜索被屏蔽內容的「自由微博」橫空出世". RFA. 2013-05-06. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
  4. ^ a b "敏感詞任搜「自由微博」嗆中國". Apple Daily. 2013-05-08. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
  5. ^ Free Weibo – Celebrating the Freedom of Weibo,, May 21, 2015
  6. ^ a b c "How to beat China's Great Firewall, one salvaged Weibo message at a time". QUARTZ. 2013-10-04. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
  7. ^ " Site Overview". Archived from the original on 2016-08-17. Retrieved 2016-07-18.
  8. ^ a b Index Freedom of Expression Awards: Digital activism nominee Free Weibo, 18 Mar 2014
  9. ^ Apple blocks app developed by Chinese activists and RNW, Radio Netherlands Worldwide
  10. ^ Winners 2013 - The Bobs - Best of Online Activism

See also