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Throughout history, societies practiced various forms of censorship in the belief that the community, as represented by the government, was responsible for molding the individual.

The term censorship derives from the official duties of the Roman censor who, beginning in 443 b.c., conducted the census by counting, assessing, and evaluating the populace. Originally neutral in tone, the term has come to mean the suppression of ideas or images by the government or others with authority.