Twitter Users Revolt as China Takes Google Offline

Over the past few years, Google has proven a great success in China, capturing more than 30 percent of the online search market. But along the way, it's irked government authorities eager to control the flow of information and ideas. Tensions have grown with the search engine's popularity, and Chinese officials recently ordered the company to suspend some services in the country under the hard-to-believe pretense that the search engine allowed access to pornography. Now, reports indicate that the Chinese government has used its filtering system, the so-called Great Firewall of China, to take all major Google services, including chat, mail, and search, offline entirely — and the country's Twittering webheads aren't happy. TechCrunch reports:

The People’s Republic of China has apparently barred its citizens from visiting a host of Google properties, including the main search engine, Google Apps, Google Reader and Gmail. A search on Twitter (preferred hashtag seems to have become #fuckgfw) reveals that many Chinese are complaining, particularly about not being able to use the search engine, although it appears Google.cn can still be reached at this point.


Some human rights advocates have argued in the past that Google should simply refuse to do business with China because of the country's human-rights abuses. I'm sympathetic to the argument, but it's always seemed to me that any Google presence in the country is better than none, particularly given that its presence, even in a limited form, is likely to help dissidents find ways around government censorship. The downside, as evident here, is that any service that proves a useful enough tool is bound to attract the ire of authorities. 

The good news, however is that, just as in Iran, Twitter seems to have provided an outlet for organized complaint and information-sharing. It's a minor victory, but in the battle between free expression and government control, I'll take what I can get.

Last week, Reason senior editor Michael Moynihan wrote about how Iranian protestors are using Twitter to organize and spread information. Back in 2003, Brian Doherty wrote about China's war on cybercafes.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • hmm||

    Hope you own some BIDU.

  • ||

    Over the past few years, Google has proven a great success in China, capturing more than 30 percent of the online search market.

    What do the other 70% use, iAbacus.com?

  • EoT||

    They use Baidu, Sugarfree.

  • hmm||

    Baidu (ticker BIDU) has made a play for everything from search engine to amazon clone and have the backing of the government.

  • Jordan||

    Anybody else get the impression that their just trying to squish Baidu's biggest competitor?

  • ||

    the hard-to-believe pretense that the search engine allowed access to pornography.

    Say it ain't so! Porn, on the internets, that you can find with a search engine?!?! Its the End of Days!

  • hmm||

    One kid rule, tax anymore than one kid, get rid of most accessible porn.

    Sounds like a tax scheme to me.

  • ||

    I'm in China using Gmail, Google News and Google Search right now.

    Last night I noticed Google.com wasn't working, but I assumed that was because I searched for something the firewall didn't like. Sometimes if you search for politically sensitive topics, porn-related stuff, or just random stuff that is SIMILAR to those topics, Google will become temporarily blocked for a few minutes. I searched for "I just want bang bang bang" and figured they must block "bang".


    There's a simple solution--I turned on my VPN and continued browsing as normal :)

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement