The process looked familiar to Liu, who worked as a content censor at Weibo, the microblogging site where Peng described how former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli coerced her into sex before the two entered into an on-and-off affair. But the scale was unprecedented, the 34-year-old said, due to the shocking nature of Peng’s story, the sheer number of people on social media, and the Communist leadership’s growing desire to keep public opinion under control.
“It is an extremely grand-scale campaign,” said Liu, who quit the company in 2013 and is now tracking Chinese censorship for China Digital Times from the United States. “There is nothing that could be compared to this. Although more serious political events have taken place in the past, the internet censorship was not that strict. I would expect them to use their full capacity to carry this out.”