Monday, June 08, 2009

shut down in China

Micro-blogging site, Twitter is one of the many blogs, forums and social networking sites closed down this week by the Chinese government in a bid to increase censorship in the country.

In an attempt to stem online political discussion ahead of the twentieth anniversary of the bloodshed at Tiananmen Square, the shut down of social media sites highlights the influence of new technology upon Chinese youth in a society which is heavily controlled.

Each year China gets nervous in the lead up to the Tiananmen Square anniversary, where pro-democracy students protested against the government in 1989 with expected thousands of lives perished by government soldiers, but this year people across the world are outraged at the extents the government has gone to.

With China having the world largest online population with the advent of internet communities proving increasingly influential in providing public awareness, people are resorting to going outside normal controlled channels to set up communities and spreading online information.

Several blogs with anti- autocratic government activists have been blocked, along with photo sharing site Flikr, Yahoo and social networker Facebook.

Jason Khoury, spokesperson for Yahoo and Flikr says the Chinese government hasn’t offered any explanation for the blocking of access to the sites.

High profile video sharing site YouTube was blocked in March for similar censorship reasons.

Educational institutions have not been excluded from the shut downs either, with more than six thousand message boards across various websites connected with Chinese colleges and universities closed in order to shelter discussions.

New search engine Bing and its email affiliate Hotmail, have also been blocked by the Chinese Government, with creators Microsoft reaching out to the Chinese government to find a way to move forward.

In a statement from AFP, Microsoft director of Public Affairs, Kevin Kutz says "Microsoft is committed to helping advance the free flow of information, and is committed to encouraging transparency, due process and rule of law when it comes to Internet governance,"

Director of The Berkeley China Internet Project, Xiao Qiang says it has been an intensified clampdown on quasi-public discussion of awareness of the event.

"It's a discussion about where China is now and where China can go from here. So the authorities are making a major crackdown to block user-generated sites such as Twitter and show there is no right to public discussion," he says.