Users of the MSN Spaces section of Microsoft Corp.'s new China-based Web portal get a scolding message each time they input words deemed taboo by the communist authorities — such as democracy, freedom and human rights.
"Prohibited language in text, please delete," the message says.
However, the restrictions appear to apply only to the subject line of such entries. Writing them into the text, with a more innocuous subject heading, seems to be no problem.
Microsoft's Chinese staff could not be reached immediately for comment. However, a spokesman at the tech giant's headquarters in Seattle acknowledged that the company is cooperating with the Chinese government to censor its Chinese-language Web portal.
Microsoft and its Chinese business partner, government-funded Shanghai Alliance Investment, work with authorities to omit certain forbidden language, said Adam Sohn, a global sales and marketing director for MSN.
But he added, "I don't have access to the list at this point so I can't really comment specifically on what's there."
Online tests found that apart from politically sensitive words, obscenities and sexual references also are banned.
MSN Spaces, which offers free blog space, is connected to Microsoft's MSN China portal. The portal was launched on May 26, and some 5 million blogs have since been created, Microsoft said.
The Chinese government encourages Internet use for business and education but tries to ban access to material deemed subversive.
Although details of the authorities' efforts are kept secret, users of many China-based Web portals are prevented from accessing sites deemed subversive by the government.