Cross-strait frenemies: Chinese netizens VPN in to Facebook Taiwan

Shengnan Yang, Pei Ying Chen, Patrick C. Shih, Jeffrey Bardzell, Shaowen Bardzell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Contributing to research on social activism as a form of collective action, we report on Diba, a sizable group of Chinese nationalists, who overcame the Great Firewall in order to troll Taiwan's political leadership. Diba's political activism can be characterized as negotiating a tension between two seemingly opposed goals. On the one hand is their construction of a pro-PRC message using the tactics of Internet subcultures (memes, trolling, etc.), but toned down to meet standards of civility. On the other hand, by collectively breaching the Great Firewall and establishing Facebook accounts, the group transgressed PRC technical and legal norms, which were designed to prevent unsanctioned collective action. We argue that the Diba Expedition exemplifies the coordinated use of a complex, transnational social media ecology to support and produce a mass-scale event and newsworthy spectacle, loosened if not severed from state control, and a discursively innovative polysemous message targeted at diverse international audiences: civilized trolling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW
StatePublished - Nov 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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