Forbes interviews Michael Anti about the ongoing crackdown on Web 2.0 tools such as Facebook and Twitter:
Forbes: Facebook and Twitter have been blocked here in China since the unrest this year in Xinjiang, and some Chinese Twitter clones are blocked as well. Why is this the case, and do you see the controls loosening up in the near future?
Anti: Web 2.0 Web sites like Facebook and Twitter can offer the public firsthand information, even faster than a government news agency like Xinhua. In fact, the July 5 Urumqi riots news was spreading first on Twitter hours before the first Xinhua English news piece. The Chinese government believes that the situation in Urumqi and other cities would be out of control if they can’t control the information flow. That’s the basic logic behind their decision to block Twitter and other Web 2.0 Web sites.
But this wide-scale blocking costs a lot. Discontentment in cyberspace could lead more common Chinese netizens to try to protest if all of their favorite social networking, photo sharing, video and microblogging services are blocked in the long term. And this crazy-wild blocking also harms the investment environment, which now almost makes China a Web 2.0 hell for investors. So China may loosen up the blocking in some sense.
Read also “So, Comrade, Tell Me: Why Did You Censor My Website?” by Danwei founder Jeremy Goldkorn.