China commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre with another crackdown.. this time on Twitter, Flickr, Bing (Microsoft’s new Google competitor), and a number of other cites no doubt deemed to carry “unharmonious” speech. Apparently some email sites, such as Hotmail have also been shut off. It seems Microsoft can’t catch a break here outside of MSN messenger, which still seems to be working as of the time this blog post was posted. By evening, residents of some cities in the southern province of Guangdong reported that television stations from neighboring Hong Kong had also been blocked.
The block was first picked up by Alice on the Danwei blog and has been carried by others. Users in Beijing reported accessing the service without difficulty earlier on Tuesday, and even successfully searching potentially sensitive words such as “Tiananmen.” My own experience suggests it may have been blocked a few hours ago, since family of mine living in China we not able to access pictures on Flickr. The large scale crackdown represents the first widespread censorship of social media outlets in China, unlike previous blocks of websites before major events like Tiananmen anniversary dates.
The takeaway here was best described by Dave Flumenbaum at the Huffingtonpost, who writes the move is..”a tacit acknowledgment of two things: Twitter’s new power in mainland China, and how valuable Twitter would be as platform to publish original news out of mainland China on the Tiananmen anniversary.” It remains to be seem whether access will be restored after the Tiananmen anniversary, but it’s a fair bet the net nannies might be playing this by ear. My own hunch is that if the locals don’t raise a stink about it, the block is likely to be permanent.