China’s Great Firewall Blocks Twitter
Source: The New York Times
Days ahead of the the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square democracy movement, the Chinese government has detained a prominent dissident, disrupted satellite news broadcasts and blocked access to popular Web sites used to post information and exchange messages, including Hotmail, Flickr and Twitter. The video-sharing site YouTube has been blocked in China since March.
The China Digital Times reports that inside China some users “have found ways to circumvent” the barriers and “are reacting to the cut-off” in Chinese and English tweets collected on threads that use obscene names to wish ill upon the “GFW,” which is what Internet users call China’s “Great Firewall.”
The China Digital Times, which is based in California, also notes that just last week a well-known Chinese blogger, whose writings were barred by the Chinese government several years ago, said that Twitter’s days as a free-speech outlet were probably numbered in China. Michael Anti, who is now studying at Harvard (and is a former employee of The New York Times), told the Web site Danwei last Wednesday:
"Twitter is a new thing in China. The censors need time to figure out what it is. So enjoy the last happy days of twittering before the fate of Youtube descends on it one day."
Mr. Anti also explained that since Chinese characters in many ways contain more information than single letters in other languages, tweets can be much more powerful in Chinese:
"By the way, I want to point out that the Chinese Twitterland is funnier than the English one, for a Chinese tweet can have three times the volume of an English tweet, thanks to the high information intensity of the Chinese language. 140 Chinese characters can make up all the full elements of a news piece with the “5 Ws” (Who, What, Where, When and How). But the joy of the Chinese Twitterland is more fragile, and I hope that it will live longer in this country."
On his own bilingual Twitter feed, Mr. Anti has pointed readers in the direction of protest tweets and apologized for his prediction.
According to a report from Reuters: “While professional and urban Chinese often use foreign Internet tools, including Twitter, Hotmail and Facebook, the vast majority of Chinese use similar domestic services that are carefully monitored for any sign of content deemed subversive.”
The Financial Times reports from Beijing and Hong Kong that China has been trying to censor any mention of Tiananmen in old as well as new media outlets:
BBC News broadcasts were blacked out in Beijing on Monday night. Last Saturday’s edition of the Financial Times, which contained an interview with Bao Tong, the most prominent Tiananmen-era dissident still residing in China, was either not delivered to subscribers or censored. Mr Bao was an aide to Zhao Ziyang, the late party general secretary purged in May 1989 for opposing the violent crackdown. Copies of the International Herald Tribune and Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, which has dedicated extensive coverage to the anniversary, have been shredded. The government has censored Tiananmen-related stories on www.ftchinese.com, the FT’s Chinese language website.
Most of the information plaguing censors is flowing in from Hong Kong, one of only two Chinese special administrative regions where freedom of press and assembly is still respected.
In a post on the New Yorker’s Web site, Evan Osnos points out that one of the pleasures now being denied Chinese citizens is the latest updates from the official Twitter feed of the North Korean government.
So why are Twitter, Flickr, Hotmail, Live, and Bing joining YouTube, Blogspot, and WordPress.com (amongst countless others) to be blocked from internet users in China? Well, probably because of their taglines...
Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question the government do not wish to face: What are the people doing together to have their voices heard?
Blogspot. Your blog. Share your thoughts, photos, and more with your friends and let the world outside the country know what is not published on the national newspapers.
Youtube. Broadcast skeletons in the government's closet.
Flickr. Share photos the government do not wish the world to see. Watch what the world wanted the people in the country to see.
Windows Live Essentials gives you instant messaging, e-mail, blogging, photos, and more that the government do not wish its people to have.
Wordpress. Express yourself and expose what the officials are hiding. Start a blog.
Great Firewall of China,Twitter