Chinese Censors Cut Off Twitter, Hotmail and Flickr (Updated)

Jane Macartney reports in the Times from Beijing:

Two days before the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, China’s censors moved today to limit the access of the country’s increasingly tech-savvy population to vast swathes of the internet.

The first victims were the rising population of tweeters, who use the micro-blogging service Twitter as a platform for humour — often scatological — and political comment.

Then the popular photo-posting service Flickr disappeared, as did the Hotmail e-mail service and Microsoft’s new search engine, Bing. The blocks did not stop there, however: MSN Spaces also disappeared

The timing is scarcely a coincidence. Thursday marks the 20th anniversary of the entry of the People’s Liberation Army into Beijing on June 4 1989 to crush seven weeks of student-led demonstrations centred in Tiananmen Square.

Update:
Those on Twitter who are not behind blocks, or who have found ways to circumvent them, are reacting to the cut-off via the hashtags (analogous to blog tags) #fuckgfw, and now, #caogfw. According to several tweets, Wikipedia has also been blocked. However, this has not been confirmed.

Danwei is also noting which sites are getting blocked. Additionally, read their interview with Michael Anti, a Chinese journalist who came into international spotlight after his Spaces blog was deleted by Microsoft in 2005. In the interview from May 27, Anti predicts that Twitter would one day get blocked.

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.

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.

Read ChinaGeeks to learn more about what is surprisingly being permitted in the Chinese press:

What’s more interesting than the blocks (who didn’t see the death of twitter coming from miles away?) is what is actually being said inside China about the anniversary.

See also CNReviews for a list of options to get around the Great Firewall.

Update #2: According to CN Reviews’ update, Hotmail is now back.

See also the New York Times story on the recent censorship.

Chinese netizens’ response? Here are two examples.

Beijing based blogger keso wrote:

We will remember this date, June 2, 2009. Microsoft’s newly introduced Bing.com, along with Live.com, Twitter.com, Flickr.com, and a bunch of other great overseas websites, were simultaneously blocked by GFW. In China, that so-called “Internet” thing is becoming the world’s largest LAN(local area network).

Nobody knows who ordered the blockage. Nobody knows what the basis of the blockage is. Nobody knows what kind of process is required for blocking a website. Nobody knows the next website that is going to be blocked. And furthermore, nobody knows how to appeal or how to release the blockage. GFW completely is a black box.

This phrase “FuckGFW,” in a short span of one or two hours, reached second place on Twitter’s hottest topics. Chinese netizens hated nothing more than this GFW that is built by our hard-earned money to imprison ourselves. Please remember: We are very angry.

We are not Meng Jiang Nu. We do not have that many tears to weep down this Great Wall. However, we will hold the grudge, just like those Jewish people hunting down escaped Nazis, holding the grudge.

June 2, 2009, this date is so dark that I cannot breath. Fuck the GFW!

And here is the national anthem of the People’s Republic of Grass-Mud Horse:

起来,不願被GFW的人們! 把我們的API、推倒我們新的 長城! 中華民族到了最危險的時候、 每個人被迫著發 出最後的吼聲。 起來!起來!起來! 我們萬眾一心、 冒著五毛的炮火、翻牆! 冒著五毛的炮火、翻牆! 翻 牆!翻牆!翻!

Arise! All who refuse to be GFWed!
Let our API push down our new Great Wall!
As the Chinese nation faces its greatest peril,
All forcefully expend their last cries.
Arise! Arise! Arise!
Our million hearts beat as one,
Brave the Fifty Cent Party’s fire, Climb over the Wall!
Brave the Fifty Cent Party’s fire, Climb over the Wall!
Climb over the Wall! Climb over the Wall! Climb!