China blocks Twitter, Facebook, most Web 2.0

Google and YouTube also censored as a means of hiding bloody riots

Technology trends and news by Ronny Kerr
July 7, 2009
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China protestsIt looks like China is once again terrified at the prospect that its one billion citizens could login to Twitter to tell the world “what they’re doing.”

China took steps this week to block access to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and various Google communication services this week, as a means of disrupting the unchecked flow of media and exchange through the Internet. Coming just a few days after the government collided violently with protests in the regional capital of Urumqi and nearby areas, this latest report by web2asia reveals that the Chinese government recognizes and fears the immense power of social media.

Facebook and YouTube allow users to share content like videos rapidly, giving people the power to find out what’s really going on locally or globally. Perhaps most significant of all, Twitter allows users to quickly and easily update their profile with a short status message, which might have been used to inform the world about the latest conflicts or to update fellow protestors on meeting places and times.

In June, Iranian protestors used the social networking site for exactly those purposes, in tandem with Facebook messaging and YouTube video uploads, as a means of undermining the government’s blocking of traditional news sources. With 156 people killed and more than 800 injured in China's latest riots, as reported by ABC News, one can see why the government would be trying to hide any of its latest errors.

Censorship in China is hardly a new topic of controversy. The government usually seems to find internal monitoring a simple task, however, compared with the monolithic task of filtrating the tidal wave of content flowing through the Web. Google came under fire three years ago for aiding the Chinese government—in direct opposition of their motto, “Don’t be evil,” some said—by censoring certain news results, like the famous photos of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

Though some of the restrictions might be lifted after the deadly conflicts cool down, the frantic censorship this week reveals that the Internet will continue to slow down media-controlling efforts in the years to come.

(image source: ABC News)

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