Yet Another Way to Scale the Great Firewall

by on October 26, 2009 · 5 comments

The imagination of the open source community never ceases to amaze me.  But these days the sheer number of people using open source solutions makes the previous statement akin to saying “people never to cease to amaze me,” which they don’t.  However, with thousands of a developers adapting open platforms to problem I never knew existed, I should get used to the constant stream of innovations.

WordPress has become an especially vibrant community that often throws total curve balls my way when I’m looking at lists of plugins, which I all-to-frequently do. Today, I discovered two particular gems worth sharing.

TextImage and Censortive, two plugins compatible with the most current versions of WordPress, are ingenious little bits of programming for skirting around the “Great Firewall” and any other attempts to censor the Net.  The two plugins work by turning some or all of the text of a blog post into .PNG images of those words—making them readable by humans, but not by machines set to filter out web pages featuring forbidden words like “Falun Gong” and “Dalai Lama.”

While TextImage will image-ify your whole post—the fail-safe way around the censors—Censortive allows users to create a list of likely-to-be-censored terms which will then be replaced with images of those words. This means that text is still search-able, but words considered off-limits by big brother won’t set off any flags at your local office of the cultural ministry. Simply Brilliant!

Recent history has shown us that regimes in Egypt, Iran, and Australia can’t control content for long, thanks to quick and easy workarounds like these.  It’s a shame that they keep trying.

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