That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one excerpt:
Chinese citizens are currently upset and panicked, and their online communication might exceed the ability of the censors to control it. Some censorship is done algorithmically, but much of it is performed by humans, if only because the algorithms are far from perfect and cannot pick up on the rapidly changing allusions and code words people use.
What happens if there are too many subversive messages to censor? The system might break down, and speech might become more free. Reimposing censorship might be difficult, politically and logistically.
There is yet another reason censorship might prove difficult. If you feel desperate and fear for your health, the penalties for speaking out online might not seem so bad by comparison. You might not care so much about that promotion at work or your standing in the party. Moreover, the stress of the situation may lower your inhibitions. And if public criticism becomes more common, it may seem safe to join the growing crowd. The eventual result of all this would be a partial collapse of censorship.
The link also considers the entirely possible scenario that Chinese liberties could instead decrease.