A million-word novel got censored before it was even shared. Now Chinese users want answers.

The news caused a stir on social media on July 11 after several prominent influential accounts belatedly picked it up. It became the most trending topic on Weibo that day, with users questioning whether WPS was invading their privacy. Since then, The Economic Observer, a Chinese publication, reported that several other online novelists have had their manuscripts locked for unclear reasons in the past.

Mitu’s complaint sparked a discussion on social media in China about the responsibility of censorship and technology platforms. It also highlights the tension between Chinese users raise awareness about privacy and the censorship obligations of technology companies on behalf of the government. “This is a case where perhaps we are seeing that these two really do,” said Tom Nunlist, China cyber and data policy analyst at Beijing-based research group Trivium China. may collide with each other.

While Mitu’s document was saved online and was previously shared with an editor in 2021, she said she was the only one who edited it this year, when it was suddenly locked. . “All content is clear and can even be published on [literature] site, but WPS decides it should be locked. Who gave it the right to look at users’ private documents and decide on its own what to do with them? ” she writes.

Originally released in 1989 by Chinese software company Kingsoft, WPS claim to have 310 million monthly users. It has benefited in part from government subsidies and contracts as the Chinese government seeks to push its companies ahead of foreign rivals for security reasons.

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