Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information. This may be done on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or "inconvenient". Censorship can be conducted by governments, private institutions and other controlling bodies. Governments and private organizations may engage in censorship. Other groups or institutions may propose and petition for censorship.https://www.aclu.org/other/what-censorship "What Is Censorship", ACLU When an individual such as an author or other creator engages in censorship of his or her own works or speech, it is referred to as ''
self-censorship Self-censorship is the act of censorship, censoring or Classified Information, classifying one's own discourse. This is done out of fear of, or deference to, the sensibilities or preferences (actual or perceived) of others and without overt pressure ...
''. General censorship occurs in a variety of different media, including speech, books, music, films, and other arts, the press, radio, television, and the Internet for a variety of claimed reasons including
national security National security or national defence is the security and Defence (military), defence of a sovereign state, nation state, including its Citizenship, citizens, economy, and institutions, which is regarded as a duty of government. Originally c ...
, to control
obscenity An obscenity is any utterance or act that strongly offends the prevalent of the time. It is derived from the Latin ''obscēnus'', ''obscaenus'', "boding ill; disgusting; indecent", of uncertain etymology. The word can be used to indicate strong ...
child pornography Child pornography (also called CP, child sexual abuse material, CSAM, child porn, or kiddie porn) is pornography Pornography (often shortened to porn) is the portrayal of Human sexual activity, sexual subject matter for the exclusive purpo ...
, and
hate speech Hate speech is defined by the ''Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, Cambridge Dictionary'' as "public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group based on something such as race, religion, sex, or sexual orie ...
, to protect children or other vulnerable groups, to promote or restrict political or religious views, and to prevent
slander Defamation (also known as calumny, vilification, libel, slander or traducement) is the oral or written communication of a false statement about another that unjustly harms their reputation and usually constitutes a tort or crime In ord ...
libel Defamation (also known as calumny, vilification, libel, slander, or traducement) is the oral or written communication of a false statement about another that unjustly harms their reputation and usually constitutes a tort A tort, in commo ...
. Direct censorship may or may not be legal, depending on the type, location, and content. Many countries provide strong protections against censorship by law, but none of these protections are absolute and frequently a claim of necessity to balance conflicting rights is made, in order to determine what could and could not be censored. There are no laws against self-censorship.


In 399 BC, Greek philosopher,
Socrates Socrates (; ; –399 BC) was a Greek philosopher from Athens Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is the capital city, capital and List of cities in Greece, largest city of Greece. Athens domi ...

, while defying attempts by the Greek state to censor his philosophical teachings, was accused of collateral charges related to the corruption of Athenian youth and sentenced to death by drinking a poison,
hemlock Hemlock may refer to: Plants *Several poisonous plants in the family Apiaceae **''Cicuta'' (water hemlock) **''Conium'', four species, of which ''maculatum'' is the only endemic outside of southern Africa; in history given to poison and execute p ...

. The details of Socrates's conviction are recorded by Plato as follows. In 399 BC, Socrates went on
trial In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by i ...
and was subsequently found guilty of both corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens and of
impiety Impiety is a perceived lack of proper respect for something considered sacred. Impiety is often closely associated with sacrilege Konstantin Makovsky, ''The Bulgarian Martyresses'', 1877. Depicts bashibazouks of the Ottoman Empire violating ad ...
asebeiaAsebeia (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean ...
'', "not believing in the gods of the state"), and as a punishment sentenced to death, caused by the drinking of a mixture containing hemlock. Socrates' student,
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, wikt:Πλάτων, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian philosopher during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thoug ...

, is said to have advocated censorship in his essay on '' The Republic'', which opposed the existence of democracy. In contrast to Plato, Greek playwright
Euripides Euripides (; grc, Εὐριπίδης ''Eurīpídēs'', ; ) was a tragedian Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a form of drama based on human suffering and, mainly, the terrible or sorrowfu ...

(480–406 BC) defended the true liberty of freeborn men, including the right to speak freely. In 1766, Sweden became the first country to abolish censorship by law.

Rationale and criticism

Censorship has been criticized throughout history for being unfair and hindering progress. In a 1997 essay on Internet censorship, social commentator Michael Landier claims that censorship is counterproductive as it prevents the censored topic from being discussed. Landier expands his argument by claiming that those who impose censorship must consider what they censor to be true, as individuals believing themselves to be correct would welcome the opportunity to disprove those with opposing views. Censorship is often used to impose moral values on society, as in the censorship of material considered obscene. English novelist E. M. Forster was a staunch opponent of censoring material on the grounds that it was obscene or immoral, raising the issue of moral subjectivity and the constant changing of moral values. When the 1928 novel ''
Lady Chatterley's Lover ''Lady Chatterley's Lover'' is a novel by English author D. H. Lawrence that was first published privately in 1928 in Italy and in 1929 in France. An unexpurgated edition was not published openly in the United Kingdom until 1960, when it was t ...
'' was put on trial in 1960, Forster wrote: Proponents have sought to justify it using different rationales for various types of information censored: * Moral censorship is the removal of materials that are
obscene An obscenity is any utterance or act that strongly offends the prevalent morality Morality (from ) is the differentiation of intentions, decisions and Social actions, actions between those that are distinguished as proper (right) and those th ...
or otherwise considered morally questionable. Pornography, for example, is often censored under this rationale, especially
child pornography Child pornography (also called CP, child sexual abuse material, CSAM, child porn, or kiddie porn) is pornography Pornography (often shortened to porn) is the portrayal of Human sexual activity, sexual subject matter for the exclusive purpo ...
, which is illegal and censored in most jurisdictions in the world. * Military censorship is the process of keeping military intelligence and
tactics Tactic(s) or Tactical may refer to: * Tactic (method), a conceptual action implemented as one or more specific tasks ** Military tactics, the disposition and maneuver of units on a particular sea or battlefield ** Chess tactics ** Political tactic ...
confidential and away from the enemy. This is used to counter espionage. *
Political censorshipPolitical censorship exists when a government attempts to conceal, misinformation, fake, distort, or disinformation, falsify information that its citizens receive by suppressing or crowding out political news that the public might receive through new ...
occurs when governments hold back information from their citizens. This is often done to exert control over the populace and prevent free expression that might foment
rebellion Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders of an established authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behavio ...
. * Religious censorship is the means by which any material considered objectionable by a certain religion is removed. This often involves a dominant religion forcing limitations on less prevalent ones. Alternatively, one religion may shun the works of another when they believe the content is not appropriate for their religion. *
Corporate censorship Corporate censorship is censorship by corporations. It is when a spokesperson, employer, or business associate sanctions a speaker's speech by threat of monetary loss, employment loss, or loss of access to the marketplace. It is present in many d ...
is the process by which editors in corporate media outlets intervene to disrupt the publishing of information that portrays their business or business partners in a negative light, or intervene to prevent alternate offers from reaching public exposure.



State secrets and prevention of attention

In wartime, explicit censorship is carried out with the intent of preventing the release of information that might be useful to an enemy. Typically it involves keeping times or locations secret, or delaying the release of information (e.g., an operational objective) until it is of no possible use to enemy forces. The moral issues here are often seen as somewhat different, as the proponents of this form of censorship argues that release of tactical information usually presents a greater risk of casualties among one's own forces and could possibly lead to loss of the overall conflict. During
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
letters written by British soldiers would have to go through censorship. This consisted of officers going through letters with a black marker and crossing out anything which might compromise operational secrecy before the letter was sent. The
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
catchphrase "
Loose lips sink ships Loose lips sink ships is an American English idiom meaning "beware of unguarded talk". The phrase originated on propaganda posters during World War II. The phrase was created by the War Advertising Council and used on posters by the United States O ...
" was used as a common justification to exercise official wartime censorship and encourage individual restraint when sharing potentially sensitive information. An example of " sanitization" policies comes from the
USSR The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a socialist state that spanned Eurasia during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a Federation, federal union of multiple national Republics of ...
Joseph Stalin ( – 5 March 1953) was a Georgians, Georgian revolutionary and Soviet political leader who governed the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death in 1953. He held power both as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1922–1952 ...
, where publicly used photographs were often altered to remove people whom Stalin had condemned to execution. Though past photographs may have been remembered or kept, this deliberate and systematic alteration to all of history in the public mind is seen as one of the central themes of
Stalinism Stalinism is the means of governing and policies which were implemented in the Soviet Union from 1927 to 1953 by Joseph Stalin. It included the creation of a one-party totalitarian police state; rapid industrialization; the theory of socialis ...
totalitarianism Totalitarianism is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthl ...

. Censorship is occasionally carried out to aid authorities or to protect an individual, as with some kidnappings when attention and media coverage of the victim can sometimes be seen as unhelpful.


Censorship by religion is a form of censorship where
freedom of expression Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom Freedom, generally, is having the ability to act or change without constraint. Something is "free" if it can change easily and is not constrained in its present state. In philosop ...
is controlled or limited using
religious authority Theocracy is a form of government in which a deity A deity or god is a supernatural being considered divinity, divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as "a God (male deity), god or goddess (in a polytheistic relig ...
or on the basis of the teachings of the
religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology ...

. This form of censorship has a long history and is practiced in many societies and by many religions. Examples include the
Galileo affair The Galileo affair ( it, il processo a Galileo Galilei) began around 1610 and culminated with the trial and condemnation of Galileo Galilei by the Roman Catholic Inquisition in 1633. Galileo was prosecuted for his support of heliocentrism, the A ...
, Edict of Compiègne, the
Index Librorum Prohibitorum The ''Index Librorum Prohibitorum'' ("List of Prohibited Books") was a list of publications deemed heretical Heresy is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs, in particular the accepted belie ...
(list of prohibited books) and the condemnation of
Salman Rushdie Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie (born 19 June 1947) is a British Americans, British-American novelist and essayist of Indian people, Indian descent. His work, combining magical realism with Historical novel, historical fiction, is primarily concerned ...

Salman Rushdie
's novel ''
The Satanic Verses ''The Satanic Verses'' is Salman Rushdie's fourth novel, first published September 26, 1988 and inspired in part by the life of Muhammad. As with his previous books, Rushdie used magical realism and relied on contemporary events and people to c ...
'' by
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

ian leader
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini Sayyid Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini ( , ; fa, سید روح‌الله موسوی خمینی ; 17 May 19003 June 1989), also known as Ayatollah Khomeini, was an Iranian political and religious leader. He was the founder of the Islamic Republic ...
. Images of the Islamic figure Muhammad are also regularly censored. In some secular countries, this is sometimes done to prevent hurting religious sentiments.

Educational sources

The content of school textbooks is often an issue of debate, since their target audience is young people. The term whitewashing is commonly used to refer to revisionism aimed at glossing over difficult or questionable historical events, or a biased presentation thereof. The reporting of military atrocities in history is extremely controversial, as in the case of
The Holocaust The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the genocide Genocide is the attempted destruction of a people, usually defined as an ethnic An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify wi ...
Holocaust denial Holocaust denial is the act of denying the Nazi genocide of Jews in the Holocaust. Holocaust deniers make one or more of the following false statements: *Nazi Germany's Final Solution was aimed only at Expulsions and exoduses of Jews, deportin ...
Bombing of Dresden The bombing of Dresden was a British-American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly know ...
, the
Nanking Massacre The Nanjing Massacre or the Rape of Nanjing (formerly Chinese postal romanization, romanized as ''Nanking'') was the mass-scale random murder, wartime rape, looting and arson committed by the Imperial Japanese Army against the residents of Na ...
as found with
Japanese history textbook controversies Japanese history textbook controversies involve controversial content in one of the government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad ...
, the
Armenian genocide The Armenian Genocide (Terminology of the Armenian Genocide, other names) was the systematic mass murder and ethnic cleansing of around 1 million ethnic Armenians from Asia Minor and adjoining regions by the Ottoman Empire and its ruling ...

Armenian genocide
, the
Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 The Tiananmen Square protests, known in China as the June Fourth Incident (), were student-led Demonstration (people), demonstrations held in Tiananmen Square, Beijing during 1989. In what is known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre (), People' ...
, and the
Winter Soldier Investigation The "Winter Soldier Investigation" was a media event sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) from January 31, 1971, to February 2, 1971. It was intended to publicize United States War Crimes#War crimes committed by US forces, wa ...
of the
Vietnam War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Vietnam War , partof = the Indochina Wars The Indochina Wars ( vi, Chiến tranh Đông Dương) were a series of wars fought in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled ...
. In the context of secondary school education, the way facts and history are presented greatly influences the interpretation of contemporary thought, opinion and socialization. One argument for censoring the type of information disseminated is based on the inappropriate quality of such material for the younger public. The use of the "inappropriate" distinction is in itself controversial, as it changed heavily. A Ballantine Books version of the book ''
Fahrenheit 451 ''Fahrenheit 451'' is a 1953 Utopian and dystopian fiction, dystopian novel by Americans, American writer Ray Bradbury. Often regarded as one of his best works, the novel presents a future American society where Book, books are outlawed and "f ...
'' which is the version used by most school classes contained approximately 75 separate edits, omissions, and changes from the original Bradbury manuscript. In February 2006, a ''
National Geographic ''National Geographic'' (formerly the ''National Geographic Magazine'', sometimes branded as NAT GEO) is an American monthly magazine published by the National Geographic Society The National Geographic Society (NGS), headquartered in Was ...
'' cover was censored by the Nashravaran Journalistic Institute. The offending cover was about the subject of
love Love encompasses a range of strong and positive emotion Emotions are mental state, psychological states brought on by neurophysiology, neurophysiological changes, variously associated with thoughts, feelings, behavioural responses, and ...

and a picture of an embracing couple was hidden beneath a white sticker.

Economic induced censorship

Economic induced censorship, is a type of censorship enacted by economic markets, to favor, and disregard types of information. Economic induced censorship, is also caused, by market forces which privatize and establish commodification of certain information that is not accessible by the general public, primarily because of the cost associated with commodified information such as academic journals, industry reports and pay to use repositories. The concept was illustrated as a censorship pyramid that was conceptualized by primarily
Julian Assange Julian Paul Assange (; born 3 July 1971) is an Australian editor Editing is the process of selecting and preparing written Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share ...

Julian Assange
, along with
Andy Müller-Maguhn Andy Müller-Maguhn (born 3 October 1971) is a member of the German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, s ...
Jacob Appelbaum Jacob Appelbaum (born 1 April 1983) is an Americans, American independent journalist, computer security researcher, artist, and Hacking (innovation), hacker. He studies at the Eindhoven University of Technology, and was formerly a core member of th ...

Jacob Appelbaum
and , in the
Cypherpunks (book) ''Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet'' is a 2012 book by Julian Assange Julian Paul Assange (; born 3 July 1971) is an Australian editor, publisher, and activist who founded WikiLeaks in 2006. WikiLeaks came to international att ...


Self-censorship is the act of censoring or classifying one's own discourse. This is done out of fear of, or deference to, the sensibilities or preferences (actual or perceived) of others and without overt pressure from any specific party or institution of authority. Self-censorship is often practiced by
film producer A film producer is a person who oversees film production. Either employed by a production company or working Independent film, independently, producers plan and coordinate various aspects of film production, such as selecting the script; coordinat ...
film director A film director controls a film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applying paint Paint i ...
publisher Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the creation and distribution of printed works, such as book A ...

news anchor A news presenter – also known as a newsreader, newscaster (short for "news broadcaster"), anchorman or anchorwoman, news anchor or simply an anchor – is a person who presents news during a news program on television show, TV, radio or ...
journalist A journalist is an individual trained to collect/gather information in form of text, audio or pictures, processes them to a news-worthy form and disseminates it to the public. The act or process mainly done by the journalist is called journalism ...

musician A musician is a person who Composer, composes, Conducting, conducts, or Performing arts, performs music. According to the United States Employment Service, "musician" is a general Terminology, term used to designate one who follows music as a pr ...

s, and other kinds of
author An author is the creator or originator of any written work such as a book A book is a medium for recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or item ...

s including individuals who use
social media Social media are interactive technologies that facilitate the creation Creation may refer to: Religion * Creation ''ex nihilo'', the concept that matter was created by God out of nothing * Creation myth A creation myth (or cosmogonic myth) ...

social media
. According to a
Pew Research Center The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan Nonpartisanism is a lack of affiliation with, and a lack of bias toward, a political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's ...

Pew Research Center
and the ''Columbia Journalism Review'' survey, "About one-quarter of the local and national journalists say they have purposely avoided newsworthy stories, while nearly as many acknowledge they have softened the tone of stories to benefit the interests of their news organizations. Fully four-in-ten (41%) admit they have engaged in either or both of these practices." Threats to media freedom have shown a significant increase in Europe in recent years, according to a study published in April 2017 by the
Council of Europe The Council of Europe (CoE; french: Conseil de l'Europe, ) is an international organisation ''International Organization'' is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal that covers the entire field of international relations, international aff ...

Council of Europe
. This results in a fear of physical or psychological violence, and the ultimate result is self-censorship by journalists.

Copy, picture, and writer approval

Copy approval is the right to read and amend an article, usually an interview, before publication. Many publications refuse to give copy approval but it is increasingly becoming common practice when dealing with publicity anxious celebrities. Picture approval is the right given to an individual to choose which photos will be published and which will not.
Robert Redford Charles Robert Redford Jr. (born August 18, 1936) is an American actor, director, and activist. He is the List of awards and nominations received by Robert Redford, recipient of various accolades, including an Academy Awards, Academy Award from ...

Robert Redford
is well known for insisting upon picture approval. Writer approval is when writers are chosen based on whether they will write flattering articles or not. Hollywood publicist Pat Kingsley is known for banning certain writers who wrote undesirably about one of her clients from interviewing any of her other clients.

Reverse censorship

Flooding the public, often through online
social network A social network is a social structure made up of a set of social actors (such as individuals or organizations), sets of Dyad (sociology), dyadic ties, and other Social relation, social interactions between actors. The social network perspectiv ...

social network
s, with false or misleading information is sometimes called "reverse censorship". American legal scholar
Tim Wu Timothy Shiou-Ming Wu (Born 1971/1972) is an American attorney, legal scholar, political figure, and government official who served as a professor of law at Columbia University Columbia University (also known as Columbia, and officially as ...
has explained that this type of information control, sometimes by state actors, can "distort or drown out disfavored speech through the creation and dissemination of
fake news Fake news is false or misleading information presented as news News is information about current events. This may be provided through many different Media (communication), media: word of mouth, printing, postal systems, broadcasting, ...

fake news
, the payment of fake commentators, and the deployment of propaganda
robots" #REDIRECT Robots exclusion standard#REDIRECT Robots exclusion standard {{R from other capitalisation\nInternet server's services'Cloud's driver's ...<\/div> {{R from other capitalisation\nInternet server's services'Cloud's driver's" ...

By media


Book censorship can be enacted at the national or sub-national level, and can carry legal penalties for their infraction. Books may also be challenged at a local, community level. As a result, books can be removed from schools or libraries, although these bans do not typically extend outside of that area.


Aside from the usual justifications of pornography and
obscenity An obscenity is any utterance or act that strongly offends the prevalent of the time. It is derived from the Latin ''obscēnus'', ''obscaenus'', "boding ill; disgusting; indecent", of uncertain etymology. The word can be used to indicate strong ...
, some films are censored due to changing racial attitudes or
political correctness ''Political correctness'' (adjectivally: ''politically correct''; commonly abbreviated ''PC'') is a term used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of particular groups in soci ...
in order to avoid
ethnic stereotyping An ethnic stereotype (national stereotype, or national character) or racial stereotype involves part of a system of beliefs about typical characteristics of members of a given ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people ...
and/or ethnic offense despite its historical or artistic value. One example is the still withdrawn "
Censored Eleven File:Friz Freleng - Merrie Melodies - Jungle Jitters (1938).webm, thumbtime=299, ''Jungle Jitters'' The Censored Eleven is a group of ''Looney Tunes'' and ''Merrie Melodies'' cartoons originally produced and released by Warner Bros. that were w ...
" series of animated cartoons, which may have been innocent then, but are "incorrect" now. Film censorship is carried out by various countries. Film censorship is achieved by censoring the producer or restricting a state citizen. For example, in China the film industry censors LGBT related films. Filmmakers must resort in finding funds within international investors such as the “Ford Foundations” and or produce through an independent film company.


Music censorship has been implemented by states, religions, educational systems, families, retailers and lobbying groups – and in most cases they violate international conventions of human rights.


Censorship of maps is often employed for military purposes. For example, the technique was used in former
East Germany East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic (GDR; german: Deutsche Demokratische Republik, , DDR, ), was a state that existed from 1949 to 1990 in eastern Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines, a current ...
, especially for the areas near the border to
West Germany West Germany is the common English name for the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG; german: Bundesrepublik Deutschland , BRD) between its formation on 23 May 1949 and the German reunification German reunification (german: Deutsche Wieder ...
in order to make attempts of defection more difficult. Censorship of maps is also applied by
Google Maps Google Maps is a web mapping Web most often refers to: * Spider web, a silken structure created by the animal * World Wide Web upright=1.35, A global map of the web index for countries in 2014 The World Wide Web (WWW), commonly know ...

Google Maps
, where certain areas are grayed out or blacked or areas are purposely left outdated with old imagery.


Art is loved and feared because of its evocative power. Destroying or oppressing art can potentially justify its meaning even more. British photographer and visual artist Graham Ovenden's photos and paintings were ordered to be destroyed by a London's magistrate court in 2015 for being "indecent" and their copies had been removed from the online
Tate gallery The former logo was designed by Wolff Olins in 2000 and used in several similar versions and colours. Tate is an institution that houses, in a network of four art galleries, the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and N ...

Tate gallery
. A 1980 Israeli law forbade banned
artwork A work of art, artwork, art piece, piece of art or art object is an artistic creation of aesthetic value. Except for "work of art", which may be used of any work regarded as art Art is a diverse range of (products of) hum ...
composed of the four colours of the
Palestinian flag The flag of Palestine ( ar, علم فلسطين) is a tricolor of three equal horizontal stripes (black, white, and green from top to bottom) overlaid by a red triangle issuing from the hoist. This flag is derived from the Pan-Arab colors and ...

Palestinian flag
, and Palestinians were arrested for displaying such artwork or even for carrying sliced melons with the same pattern. Moath al-Alwi is a Guantanamo Bay prisoner who creates model ships as an expression of art. Alwi does so with the few tools he has at his disposal such as dental floss and shampoo bottles, and he is also allowed to use a small pair of scissors with rounded edges. A few of Alwi's pieces are on display at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. There are also other artworks on display at the College that were created by other inmates. The artwork that is being displayed might be the only way for some of the inmates to communicate with the outside. Recently things have changed though. The military has come up with a new policy that won't allow the artwork at Guantanamo Bay Military Prison to leave the prison. The art work created by Alwi and other prisoners is now government property and can be destroyed or disposed of in whatever way the government choose, making it no longer the artist's property. Around 300 artists in Cuba are fighting for their artistic freedom due to new censorship rules Cuba's government has in place for artists. In December 2018, following the introduction of new rules that would ban music performances and artwork not authorized by the state,
performance art Performance art is an artwork or art exhibition created through actions executed by the artist or other participants. It may be witnessed live or through documentation, spontaneously developed or written, and is traditionally presented to a pu ...
Tania Bruguera Tania Bruguera (born 1968) is a Cuban installation art, installation and performance artist. She lives and works between New York and Havana, and has participated in numerous international exhibitions. Her work is also in the permanent collections ...

Tania Bruguera
was detained upon arriving to Havana and released after four days. An example of extreme state censorship was the Nazis requirements of using art as propaganda. Art was only allowed to be used as a political instrument to control people and failure to act in accordance with the censors was punishable by law, even fatal. The
Degenerate Art Exhibition Adolf_Ziegler.html" ;"title="Adolf Hitler and Adolf Ziegler">Adolf Hitler and Adolf Ziegler visit the Degenerate Art exhibition, 1937. --> The Degenerate Art Exhibition (german: Die Ausstellung "Entartete Kunst") was an art exhibition organized by ...
is a historical instance that's goal was to advertise Nazi values and slander others.


Internet censorship is control or suppression of the publishing or accessing of information on the Internet. It may be carried out by governments or by private organizations either at the behest of government or on their own initiative. Individuals and organizations may engage in
self-censorship Self-censorship is the act of censorship, censoring or Classified Information, classifying one's own discourse. This is done out of fear of, or deference to, the sensibilities or preferences (actual or perceived) of others and without overt pressure ...
on their own or due to intimidation and fear. The issues associated with Internet censorship are similar to those for offline censorship of more traditional media. One difference is that national borders are more permeable online: residents of a country that bans certain information can find it on websites hosted outside the country. Thus censors must work to prevent access to information even though they lack physical or legal control over the websites themselves. This in turn requires the use of technical censorship methods that are unique to the Internet, such as site blocking and content filtering.''Freedom of Connection, Freedom of Expression: The Changing Legal and Regulatory Ecology Shaping the Internet''
Dutton, William H.; Dopatka, Anna; Law, Ginette; Nash, Victoria, Division for Freedom of Expression, Democracy and Peace, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Paris, 2011, 103 pp.,
Furthermore, the
Domain Name System The Domain Name System (DNS) is the hierarchical and Decentralised system, decentralized naming system used to identify computers, Internet#Applications_and_services, services, and other resources reachable through the internet or other intern ...

Domain Name System
(DNS) a critical component of the Internet is dominated by centralized and few entities. The most widely used DNS root is administered by the
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN ) is an American multistakeholder group and nonprofit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or ...
(ICANN). As an administrator they have rights to shut down and seize
domain name A domain name is an identification string String or strings may refer to: *String (structure), a long flexible structure made from threads twisted together, which is used to tie, bind, or hang other objects Arts, entertainment, and media Film ...
s when they deem necessary to do so and at most times the direction is from governments. This has been the case with
Wikileaks WikiLeaks () is an international non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, public o ...
shutdowns and name seizure events such as the ones executed by the
National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (NIPRCC) is a U.S. government center overseen by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The NIPRCC coordinates the U.S. govern ...
(IPR Center) managed by the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). This makes it easy for internet censorship by authorities as they have control over what should or should not be on the Internet. Some activists and researchers have started opting for
alternative DNS root The Internet The Internet (Capitalization of Internet, or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a ''network of ...
s, though the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) does not support these DNS root providers. Unless the censor has total control over all Internet-connected computers, such as in
North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It borders China and Russia to the north, at the Yalu River, Yalu (Amnok) and Tu ...
Cuba Cuba ( , ), officially the Republic of Cuba ( es, República de Cuba, links=no ), is a country comprising the island of Cuba, as well as Isla de la Juventud Isla de la Juventud (; en, Isle of Youth) is the second-largest Cuban islan ...
, total censorship of information is very difficult or impossible to achieve due to the underlying distributed technology of the Internet.
Pseudonymity A pseudonym () or alias () (originally: ψευδώνυμος in Greek) is a fictitious name that a person or group assumes for a particular purpose, which differs from their original or true name ( orthonym). This also differs from a new name that ...
data havenA data haven, like a corporate haven or tax haven A tax haven is a country or place with very low "effective" rates of taxation for foreign investors ("headline" rates may be higher). In some traditional definitions, a tax haven also offers Bank ...
s (such as Freenet) protect free speech using technologies that guarantee material cannot be removed and prevents the identification of authors. Technologically savvy users can often find ways to Internet censorship circumvention, access blocked content. Nevertheless, blocking remains an effective means of limiting access to sensitive information for most users when censors, such as those in Internet censorship in the People's Republic of China, China, are able to devote significant resources to building and maintaining a comprehensive censorship system. Views about the feasibility and effectiveness of Internet censorship have evolved in parallel with the development of the Internet and censorship technologies: * A 1993 ''Time (magazine), Time'' magazine article quotes computer scientist John Gilmore (activist), John Gillmore, one of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as saying "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." * In November 2007, "Father of the Internet" Vint Cerf stated that he sees government control of the Internet failing because the Web is almost entirely privately owned. * A report of research conducted in 2007 and published in 2009 by the Beckman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University stated that: "We are confident that the [censorship circumvention] tool developers will for the most part keep ahead of the governments' blocking efforts", but also that "...we believe that less than two percent of all filtered Internet users use circumvention tools". * In contrast, a 2011 report by researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute published by UNESCO concludes "... the control of information on the Internet and Web is certainly feasible, and technological advances do not therefore guarantee greater freedom of speech." A Internet censorship#BBC World Service global public opinion poll, BBC World Service poll of 27,973 adults in 26 countries, including 14,306 Internet users, was conducted between 30 November 2009 and 7 February 2010. The head of the polling organization felt, overall, that the poll showed that: :Despite worries about privacy and fraud, people around the world see access to the internet as their fundamental right. They think the web is a force for good, and most don't want governments to regulate it."BBC Internet Poll: Detailed Findings"
BBC World Service, 8 March 2010
The poll found that nearly four in five (78%) Internet users felt that the Internet had brought them greater freedom, that most Internet users (53%) felt that "the internet should never be regulated by any level of government anywhere", and almost four in five Internet users and non-users around the world felt that access to the Internet was a fundamental right (50% strongly agreed, 29% somewhat agreed, 9% somewhat disagreed, 6% strongly disagreed, and 6% gave no opinion).

Social media

The rising usages of social media in many nations has led to the emergence of citizens organizing protests through social media, sometimes called "Twitter Revolution (disambiguation), Twitter Revolutions". The most notable of these social media led protests were parts Social media and the Arab Spring, Arab Spring uprisings, starting in 2010. In response to the use of social media in these protests, the Tunisian government began a hack of Tunisian citizens' Facebook accounts, and reports arose of accounts being deleted. Automated systems can be used to censor
social media Social media are interactive technologies that facilitate the creation Creation may refer to: Religion * Creation ''ex nihilo'', the concept that matter was created by God out of nothing * Creation myth A creation myth (or cosmogonic myth) ...

social media
posts, and therefore limit what citizens can say online. This most notably occurs in Censorship in China, China, where social media posts are automatically censored depending on content. In 2013, Harvard political science professor Gary King (political scientist), Gary King led a study to determine what caused social media posts to be censored and found that posts mentioning the government were not more or less likely to be deleted if they were supportive or critical of the government. Posts mentioning collective action were more likely to be deleted than those that had not mentioned collective action. Currently, social media censorship appears primarily as a way to restrict Internet users' ability to organize protests. For the Chinese government, seeing citizens unhappy with local governance is beneficial as state and national leaders can replace unpopular officials. King and his researchers were able to predict when certain officials would be removed based on the number of unfavorable social media posts. Research has proved that criticism is tolerable on social media sites, therefore it is not censored unless it has a higher chance of collective action. It isn't important whether the criticism is supportive or unsupportive of the states' leaders, the main priority of censoring certain social media posts is to make sure that no big actions are being made due to something that was said on the internet. Posts that challenge the Party's political leading role in the Chinese government are more likely to be censored due to the challenges it poses to the Chinese Communist Party.

Video games

Since the early 1980s, advocates of video games have emphasized their use as an games as art, expressive medium, arguing for their protection under the laws governing freedom of speech and also as an educational tool. Detractors argue that video games are harm principle, harmful and therefore should be Free speech limitations, subject to legislative oversight and restrictions. Many video games have certain elements removed or edited due to Video game content rating system, regional rating standards. For example, in the Japanese and PAL Versions of ''No More Heroes (video game), No More Heroes'', blood splatter and gore is removed from the gameplay. Decapitation scenes are implied, but not shown. Scenes of missing body parts after having been cut off, are replaced with the same scene, but showing the body parts fully intact.

Impact of surveillance

Surveillance and censorship are different. Surveillance can be performed without censorship, but it is harder to engage in censorship without some form of surveillance. Even when surveillance does not lead directly to censorship, the widespread knowledge or belief that a person, their computer, or their use of the Internet is under surveillance can have a "chilling effect" and lead to self-censorship.


The former Soviet Union maintained a particularly extensive program of state-imposed censorship. The main organ for official censorship in the Soviet Union was the ''Chief Agency for Protection of Military and State Secrets'' generally known as the ''Main Administration for Safeguarding State Secrets in the Press, Glavlit'', its Russian acronym. The ''Glavlit'' handled censorship matters arising from domestic writings of just about any kindeven beer and vodka labels. ''Glavlit'' censorship personnel were present in every large Soviet publishing house or newspaper; the agency employed some 70,000 censors to review information before it was disseminated by publishing houses, editorial offices, and broadcasting studios. No mass medium escaped ''Glavlit''s control. All press agencies and radio and television stations had ''Glavlit'' representatives on their editorial staffs. Sometimes, public knowledge of the existence of a specific document is subtly suppressed, a situation resembling censorship. The authorities taking such action will justify it by declaring the work to be "subversion (politics), subversive" or "inconvenient". An example is Michel Foucault's 1978 text ''Sexual Morality and the Law'' (later republished as ''The Danger of Child Sexuality''), originally published as ''La loi de la pudeur'' [literally, "the law of decency"]. This work defends the decriminalization of statutory rape and the age of consent reform, abolition of age of consent laws. When a publisher comes under pressure to suppress a book, but has already entered into a contract with the author, they will sometimes effectively censor the book by deliberately ordering a small print run and making minimal, if any, attempts to publicize it. This practice became known in the early 2000s as ''privishing'' (private publishing).

By country

Censorship by country collects information on censorship, internet censorship, press freedom, freedom of speech, and human rights by country and presents it in a sortable table, together with links to articles with more information. In addition to countries, the table includes information on former countries, disputed countries, political sub-units within countries, and regional organizations.


Very little is formally censored in Canada, aside from "
obscenity An obscenity is any utterance or act that strongly offends the prevalent of the time. It is derived from the Latin ''obscēnus'', ''obscaenus'', "boding ill; disgusting; indecent", of uncertain etymology. The word can be used to indicate strong ...
" (as defined in the landmark criminal case of ''R v Butler'') which is generally limited to pornography and
child pornography Child pornography (also called CP, child sexual abuse material, CSAM, child porn, or kiddie porn) is pornography Pornography (often shortened to porn) is the portrayal of Human sexual activity, sexual subject matter for the exclusive purpo ...
depicting and/or advocating non-consensual sex, sexual violence, degradation, or dehumanization, in particular that which causes harm (as in ''R v Labaye''). Most films are simply subject to classification by the British Columbia Film Classification Office under the non-profit Crown corporation by the name of Consumer Protection BC, whose classifications are officially used by the provinces of British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Manitoba.


Cuban media used to be operated under the supervision of the Communist Party of Cuba, Communist Party's ''Department of Revolutionary Orientation'', which "develops and coordinates propaganda strategies". Connection to the Internet is restricted and censored.


The Censorship in the People's Republic of China, People's Republic of China employs sophisticated censorship mechanisms, referred to as the Internet censorship in the People's Republic of China#Golden Shield Project, Golden Shield Project, to monitor the internet. Popular search engines such as Baidu also remove politically sensitive search results.

Eastern Bloc

Strict censorship existed in the Eastern Bloc. Throughout the bloc, the various ministries of culture held a tight rein on their writers. Cultural products there reflected the propaganda needs of the state. Party-approved censors exercised strict control in the early years. In the Stalinist period, even the weather forecasts were changed if they suggested that the sun might not shine on May Day. Under Nicolae Ceauşescu in People's Republic of Romania, Romania, weather reports were doctored so that the temperatures were not seen to rise above or fall below the levels which dictated that work must stop. Possession and use of copy machine, copying machines was tightly controlled in order to hinder production and distribution of samizdat, illegal self-publishing, self-published books and magazines. Possession of even a single samizdat manuscript such as a book by Andrei Sinyavsky was a serious crime which might involve a visit from the KGB. Another outlet for works which did not find favor with the authorities was publishing abroad.


Amid declining car sales in 2020, France banned a television ad by a Dutch bike company, saying the ad "unfairly discredited the automobile industry".


The Constitution of India guarantees freedom of expression in India, freedom of expression, but places freedom of expression in India#Restrictions, certain restrictions on content, with a view towards maintaining communal and religious harmony, given the history of communal tension in the nation. According to the Information Technology Rules 2011, objectionable content includes anything that "threatens the unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign states or public order".



Iraq under Baathist Saddam Hussein had much the same techniques of press censorship as did Romania under Nicolae Ceauşescu but with greater potential violence.


Under subsection 48(3) and (4) of the Penang Islamic Religious Administration Enactment 2004, non-Muslims in Malaysia are penalized for using the following words, or to write or publish them, in any form, version or translation in any language or for use in any publicity material in any medium: ''"Allah", "Firman Allah", "Ulama", "Hadith", "Ibadah", "Kaabah", "Qadhi'", "Illahi", "Wahyu", "Mubaligh", "Syariah", "Qiblat", "Haji", "Mufti", "Rasul", "Iman", "Dakwah", "Wali", "Fatwa", "Imam", "Nabi", "Sheikh", "Khutbah", "Tabligh", "Akhirat", "Azan", "Al Quran", "As Sunnah", "Auliya'", "Karamah", "False Moon God", "Syahadah", "Baitullah", "Musolla", "Zakat Fitrah", "Hajjah", "Taqwa" and "Soleh".''

North Korea


According to Christian Mihr, executive director of Reporters Without Borders, "censorship in Serbia is neither direct nor transparent, but is easy to prove." According to Mihr there are numerous examples of censorship and self-censorship in Serbia B92, 19/02/2015. Retrieved 12/10/2016
/ref> According to Mihr, Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vučić has proved "very sensitive to criticism, even on critical questions," as was the case with Natalija Miletic, correspondent for Deutsche Welle, Deutsche Welle Radio, who questioned him in Berlin about the media situation in Serbia and about allegations that some ministers in the Serbian government had plagiarized their diplomas, and who later received threats and offensive articles on the Serbian press. Multiple news outlets have accused Vučić of anti-democratic strongman tendencies. In July 2014, journalists associations were concerned about the freedom of the media in Serbia, in which Vučić came under criticism.Die Tageszeitung]
''Die Pampigkeit des Herrn Vučić - In Serbien werden Internetseiten attackiert, Blogs gesperrt und Blogger festgenommen. Die Betroffenen berichteten wohl zu kritisch über die Regierung (German)'' - The stroppiness of Mr. Vučić - In Serbia being attacked websites, blocked blogs and arrested bloggers. The victims reported probably too critical about the government
/ref>Die Tageszeitun
"Serbische Regierung zensiert Medien - Ein Virus namens Zensur"
taz.de; accessed 9 December 2015.
In September 2015 five members of United States Congress (Edie Bernice Johnson, Carlos Curbelo, Scott Perry, Adam Kinzinger, and Zoe Lofgren) have informed Vice President of the United States Joseph Biden that Aleksandar's brother, Andrej Vučić, is leading a group responsible for deteriorating media freedom in Serbia.


In the Singapore, Republic of Singapore, Section 33 of the Films Act originally banned the making, distribution and exhibition of "party political films", at pain of a fine not exceeding $100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years. The Act further defines a "party political film" as any film or video :(a) which is an advertisement made by or on behalf of any political party in Singapore or any body whose objects relate wholly or mainly to politics in Singapore, or any branch of such party or body; or :(b) which is made by any person and directed towards any political end in Singapore In 2001, the short documentary called ''A Vision of Persistence'' on opposition politician J. B. Jeyaretnam was also banned for being a "party political film". The makers of the documentary, all lecturers at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic, later submitted written apologies and withdrew the documentary from being screened at the 2001 Singapore International Film Festival in April, having been told they could be charged in court. Another short documentary called ''Singapore Rebel'' by Martyn See, which documented Singapore Democratic Party leader Dr Chee Soon Juan's acts of civil disobedience, was banned from the 2005 Singapore International Film Festival on the same grounds and See is being investigated for possible violations of the Films Act. This law, however, is often disregarded when such political films are made supporting the ruling People's Action Party (PAP). Channel NewsAsia's five-part documentary series on Singapore's PAP ministers in 2005, for example, was not considered a party political film. Exceptions are also made when political films are made concerning political parties of other nations. Films such as Michael Moore's 2004 documentary ''Fahrenheit 911'' are thus allowed to screen regardless of the law. Since March 2009, the Films Act has been amended to allow party political films as long as they were deemed factual and objective by a consultative committee. Some months later, this committee lifted the ban on Singapore Rebel.

Soviet Union

Independent journalism did not exist in the Soviet Union until Mikhail Gorbachev became its leader; all reporting was directed by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Communist Party or related organizations. Pravda, the predominant newspaper in the Soviet Union, had a monopoly. Foreign newspapers were available only if they were published by communist parties sympathetic to the Soviet Union.



Online access to all language versions of Wikipedia was blocked in Turkey on 29 April 2017 by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Erdoğan's government.

United Kingdom

United States

In the United States, censorship occurs through books, film festivals, politics, and public schools. See List of books banned by governments, banned books for more information. Additionally, critics of campaign finance reform in the United States say this reform imposes widespread restrictions on political speech.


In 1973, a military coup took power in Uruguay, and the State practiced censorship. For example, writer Eduardo Galeano was imprisoned and later was forced to flee. His book Open Veins of Latin America was banned by the right-wing military government, not only in Uruguay, but also in Chile and Argentina.

See also

Related articles * * * Cancel culture * * * * * * * * * * * , an organisation campaigning for freedom of expression, produces an award-winning quarterly magazine of the same name * * * * * * ** ** ** * * * * * * Streisand effect Freedoms * * * * *


Works cited

* *

Further reading

* Abbott, Randy.
A Critical Analysis of the Library-Related Literature Concerning Censorship in Public Libraries and Public School Libraries in the United States During the 1980s
" Project for degree of Education Specialist, University of South Florida, December 1987. * Birmingham, Kevin, ''The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses'', London (Head of Zeus Ltd), 2014, * Burress, Lee.
Battle of the Books
'. Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press, 1989. * Judith Butler, Butler, Judith, "Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative"(1997). *Darnton, Robert, * Demm, Eberhard. ''Censorship and Propaganda in World War I: A Comprehensive History'' (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019
online review
* Michel Foucault, Foucault, Michel, edited by Lawrence D. Kritzman. ''Philosophy, Culture: Interviews and Other Writings 1977–1984'' (New York/London: 1988, Routledge, ) (The text ''Sexual Morality and the Law'' is Chapter 16 of the book). * Gilbert, Nora
''Better Left Unsaid: Victorian Novels, Hays Code Films, and the Benefits of Censorship''
Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013. * Wittern-Keller, Laura
''Freedom of the Screen: Legal Challenges to State Film Censorship, 1915–1981''
University Press of Kentucky 2008 * Hoffman, Frank
''Intellectual Freedom and Censorship''
Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press, 1989. * Mathiesen, Ka
''Censorship and Access to Information
Handbook of Information and Computer Ethics'', Kenneth E. Himma, Herman T. Tavani, eds., John Wiley and Sons, New York, 2008 * National Coalition against Censorship (NCAC). "Books on Trial: A Survey of Recent Cases." January 1985. * Parker, Alison M. (1997)
''Purifying America: Women, Cultural Reform, and Pro-Censorship Activism, 1873–1933''
University of Illinois Press. *Biltereyst, Daniel, ed
''Silencing Cinema''
Palgrave/Macmillan, 2013. * Ringmar, Eri
''A Blogger's Manifesto: Free Speech and Censorship in the Age of the Internet''
(London: Anthem Press, 2007) * Terry, John David II. "Censorship: Post Pico." In ''School Law Update, 1986'', edited by Thomas N. Jones and Darel P. Semler. * Silber, Radomír. ''Partisan Media and Modern Censorship: Media Influence On Czech Political Partisanship and the Media's Creation of Limits to Public Opposition and Control of Exercising Power in the Czech Republic in the 1990s''. First edition. Brno: Tribun EU, 2017. 86 stran. Librix.eu. . * Silber, Radomír. (2018) On Modern Censorship in Public Service Broadcasting. ''Cultural and Religious Studies, Volume 3'', 2018, . {{Authority control Censorship, Historical negationism Propaganda techniques