Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
"Big mama" is the informal name given to an Internet censor on web bulletin boards in the mainland of People's Republic of China. The big mama is usually an employee of the company sponsoring the board whose job it is to take down politically sensitive postings. Big mamas act quite openly, and are not at all reluctant to admit that they are censoring and why. Actions of big mama are generally taken more with annoyance and amusement than with alarm, and there is often some humourous bantering with big mama.
Critics point out that the existence of big mamas are an example of infringement of freedom of speech and expression, and particularly fault Western companies such as Yahoo! for hiring big mamas on their Mainland Chinese sites. They note that big mamas extend the ability of the Chinese government to control and monitor content on discussion boards.
However, others have pointed out that by allowing web discussion sites to exist in the first place, the system actually promotes freedom of expression. Furthermore, they argue that it is far better to have the internet content provider itself perform the censorship than it would be to have officials of the Chinese government review all of the content on the message boards. They note that the actions of big mama are confined to deleting objectionable postings, and that there is no effort made to track down posters and punish them, and that replacing them with Chinese government officials would have a far more chilling effect on discussion.
See also: Internet censorship in mainland China
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