Social networking websites have made the world a smaller place. There is no group that appreciates this more than expats who have left their loved ones behind, perhaps indefinitely, for foreign climes. But, if you live in mainland China, life has suddenly become a place of the unthinkable – a place where Facebook no longer exists.
For the last two months, the Chinese government has closed networking sites one by one. It began in June with Blogger and YouTube and culminated with Twitter and Facebook four weeks ago. This is because the government believes the rioters in Xinjiang province on July 5 used networking sites to communicate.
It is not, of course, the first time the authorities have blocked access to internet sites. News sites such as the BBC and CNN were blocked for years until a few months before the Beijing Olympic Games, last August. Access was also possible on to previously blocked websites, including YouTube and Wikipedia, because of the Games.