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China's Facebook Status: Blocked

July 08, 2009 9:22 AM

ABC's Emily MacDonald reports from Beijing:

The Chinese government is not shy about censoring the internet.  As tension rose over Tibet before the 2008 Olympics, sites like Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and even Wikipedia found themselves blocked.  After the Olympic frenzy, the government seemed to relax and many sites become accessible again.  Youtube and most major blog sites, however, were re-blocked this spring when a video of a Buddhist monk being beaten surfaced.
Now, in light of the riots in Urumqi, Xinjiang, which the media is calling the next Tiananmen, or the Tibet of 2009, the government is refocusing on internet censorship.  The Latest casualty?  Facebook.  When you try to access Facebook in China, an error message appears saying “Network Timeout.” This means that Chinese residents are without Youtube, Twitter, and other sites where content is predominantly user generated.  Interestingly, the Chinese equivalent of many of these sites (i.e., Youku, the Chinese version of Youtube or Xiaonei, the version of Facebook) remain available.  One possible explanation for the choice to block major foreign sites and not their domestic equivalents is that the Chinese government might be more concerned about international criticism than internal tension.    

Even sites that have not been blocked have been closely monitored.   Any content made by either government supporters or Uighur sympathizers that is deemed controversial is immediately taken down by officials.  Additionally when you plug in words like Uighur or Xingjiang into popular search engines like Google, sometimes the search engine will abruptly stop working, just to resume about 30 seconds later.   

The government has become increasingly aware of methods to override their firewall.  Sites that offer downloadable programs such as Freegate and Ultrasurf have been blocked.  Other proxy servers are working to stay ahead of government efforts to shut them down, but many have been unsuccessful.
In Urumqi, communications security is tight.  The internet has been cut, except for a press room which has been provided by the Chinese government.  Fifty computers are going to be used to support all of the journalists covering the riots.

July 8, 2009 | Permalink | Share | User Comments (27)

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This is why America is still the best country in the world to live in; despite all the BS lately.

Posted by: jb_blogger7 | Jul 8, 2009 11:10:08 AM


Posted by: kickyourass | Jul 8, 2009 11:15:24 AM

this is so dumb! china you suck!

Posted by: peacemaker | Jul 8, 2009 11:40:45 AM

Maybe we should block the junk we import from China? Opps, Big Business would fight that tooth and nail!

Posted by: sybase46 | Jul 8, 2009 11:45:51 AM

as a chinese ,i am wordless.

Posted by: Mike | Jul 8, 2009 11:46:15 AM

A person can't turn around without the Chinese government blocking the media. That does suck.

Posted by: Rosaleah Moore | Jul 8, 2009 1:36:55 PM

Since western s arent transparent think China is doing all she can to protect her dignity..Dont forget the story USSR

Posted by: ejike | Jul 8, 2009 2:11:41 PM

CHINA is great!!!!!

Posted by: jason | Jul 8, 2009 2:12:36 PM

In customer service, receiving no crticism doesn't mean you're doing a good job. In 99% of cases it means you're not listening to your clients, and there ARE many problems.

This is the Chinese government's issue. They think 'no' criticism means they're doing a good job, when in fact they have just gagged us.

Posted by: Morry | Jul 8, 2009 2:28:42 PM

I fully understand the Chinese gov act in this special time, sipmly because they are afraid of West Media like you who may report biase and prejudice and fact-distortion which may make the situation worse and may agitate further misunderstandings, just as you have done many times in many cases, e.g. last time Lasha riot.

- A west educated pro-dem HK Chinese in SZ.

Posted by: davidwangsd | Jul 8, 2009 3:18:09 PM

this is why i say we should switch to Tawain, they were our allie in WW2, and we turned our back on them just because RED CHINA could make all the junk to sell in the US. Boycott china junk, 1/2 the time its defective or kills the ones who use it.

Posted by: william | Jul 8, 2009 3:41:02 PM

Not really sure I understand why some Chinese are so quick to claim Western media bias on a story that simply describes the techniques that China is actually using to block information coming into their own country.

Nobody is claiming Western media is perfect. On the other hand, the Chinese response to criticism which claims that China is perfect is, well, puzzling if not just plain bizarre.

Posted by: befuddled | Jul 8, 2009 3:44:06 PM

Some of you are just weird. What in the world does this have to do with the cheap stuff China produces? And if Facebook is blocked we should switch to Taiwan?

Seriously, is this just one person going on a comment spree or what...the logic behind these comments make no sense.

Posted by: ja | Jul 8, 2009 4:56:03 PM

The fact that they blocked these sites is obvious admission of guilt. If you have nothing to hide, then you would encourage open discussion. It's such a draconian measure and impedes the normalcy of life for everyone working and living here. Let's not forget that all enslaving idealism always attempt to stifle people's right to complain and protest. The greatest loss is the fact that we can't communicate with our families and friends over those great tolls. It's not the role of govt. to interfere in the lives of people. It's their job to serve us. They've got things mixed up. Just another road block in the path to evolution. I guess they'd just rather that people live in the stone-age, silent, passive sheep led to the slaughter. Geeze!!!

Posted by: enslaved | Jul 8, 2009 7:42:46 PM

Indeed, It does seem people are quick to make strange and unrelated comments. suddenly the US is the best country in the world to live in? no thanks. We should switch to Taiwan? as if there were and big red switch in some government office somewhere that would magically change all the complex relations that millions of different people, institutions and organisations have with the like in China to entities in Taiwan. how ludicrous! thats just as niave as the Shenzhen guy blindly defending the Chinese gov though some warped view that media freedom somehow means media bias when the fact is that ,notwithstanding some media outlets propensity to sensationalize, the opposite has almost always proven to be the case. controlling freedom of expresion is usually a tool to create a favourable bias. But wake up Mr Hu, it doesnt work anymore, people are over that, deal with things openly like an adult and let me have facebook access back so I can keep in touch with my Family and friends.

Posted by: mafan | Jul 8, 2009 8:32:37 PM

Taiwan should just invade China and free them from the communist.

Posted by: Kelly Hsu | Jul 9, 2009 12:31:56 AM

i don't non chinese people have the right judge such decision........the block all those site because terrorist are using those blogs or sites to spread misinformations .....for your information the leader who is responsible for this riot send out warning to her OWN relatives not to go out for a couples of day to avoid injuries.......this is obvious a planned terrorist behaviour aim to distort peace in XinJin. As for those who are making naive comments about CHinese government's decision you should be ashame of yourself. If you were the government what would you do to ensure safety and avoid futher riots? It's not easy to govern the largest country in the world with the highest population and it's even harder to make sure everyone's living a peaceful life. Decisions are to be made instantly and must have an immediate effect to keep the damage to a minimum. As an outsider, especially when you are from the Western it might seems harsh but can you do better? I mean look at Bush, how many soilders died and how many family were broken.
For those who keeps talking abt invasion anad wars and etc. GROW UP, the goal is to let people, normal citizens to live a normal life what good can war do? What benefits will you get from invading others?
I am a Chinese grew up in a Western country. I deeply feel the difference between the two sides. Ofcourse China is the perfect country and there are many places for improvement yet she is improving and getting better. As Chinese people are slow opening up to other cultures and beliefs I believe people from other ethnicity and background should do the same.

Posted by: CAt | Jul 9, 2009 1:37:09 AM

AS for media right, China does have media right but can you be sure that every media unbias? I mean everyone here has their own beliefs and your thoughts are already formed based on your beliefs. If you dun even have an open heart, how can you say Western medias are unbias? For part of my study I interview many American and ask them what they think of their government and freedom of speech. Many of them are very reluctant to state any comments. Why is that? ARe there really freedom of speech? Or are they not willing to expose their true feeling because they are too good for that? There are dark sides in every country and each country has their own way to resolve problem. Ofcourse no one wants to say bad things abt their own country but those that mean everything that's seem from the media is truth? Communist or not has nothing to do with terrorist and violence. The ones to be blamed are the ones who started the riots and those who blindly followed.

Posted by: CAt | Jul 9, 2009 1:46:24 AM

The US gov will surely enjoy the privilege which Chinese gov is taking hold of, if it is given by the constitution.
China's constitutional law is THE most magnificant one in the world, people do have all kinds of rights. They own the rights but they cannot use them.

Posted by: zgw | Jul 9, 2009 6:27:46 AM

as an expat living in china it's so hard to deal with. i really miss facebook as one of my main forms of communication with friends and family back home. to many it's just fun and a game, but to me it's so much more...

Posted by: jen | Jul 9, 2009 8:00:58 AM

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