Social Networking Returns to China

From the Wall Street Journal China Blog:

Last Tuesday, at around 5 p.m., Internet users across mainland China began reporting problems accessing popular social networking sites, such as, the Yahoo (YHOO)-owned photo-sharing site, and Microsoft’s (MSFT), and Hotmail. The sudden unavailability of these sites led many Internet users to suspect that they had been blocked due to sensitivities over the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown on June 4. And on Wednesday, dozens of Chinese Web sites also announced that they would be closed for technical maintenance for several days.

Now, it looks like most of these sites are back, though some popular sites that were inaccessible before last week remain so. These include blogs hosted on and the video-sharing site, which has been unavailable for several weeks. Blogspot and YouTube are both owned by Google (GOOG).

Ironically, the move had the effect of drawing more attention to China’s so-called “Great Firewall” among Internet users, and some of those in China were able to continue to access the blocked sites through proxies or third-party software applications. On Twitter, a number of users vented their frustration by adopting obscene variants of a hash tag that included the acronym for the Great Firewall, “gfw”.

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