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China blocks Twitter service ahead of Tiananmen anniversary

China blocks Twitter service ahead of Tiananmen anniversary
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First Published: Tue, Jun 02 2009. 04 12 PM IST
Updated: Tue, Jun 02 2009. 04 12 PM IST
Beijing: Access to the popular social networking service Twitter and email service Hotmail was blocked across mainland China late on Tuesday afternoon, two days before the twentieth anniversary of a bloody crackdown on Tiananmen Square.
Indignant users filled chatrooms with protest, after access to Twitter was denied shortly after 2.30 pm on Tuesday.
“The whole Twitter community in China has been exploding with it,” said Beijing-based technology commentator Kaiser Kuo.
“It’s just part of life here. If anything surprises me, it’s that it took them so long.”
Thursday is the twentieth anniversary of June 4, 1989, when tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square before dawn to quell weeks of protest by students and workers. China has never released a death toll from the crackdown on what it classes as a “counter-revolutionary” conspiracy.
Other Internet users reported not being able to access Windows Live, a service offered by Microsoft Corp. which also owns Hotmail, and also Flickr, an online photo sharing service owned by Yahoo.
“This is so frustrating. Now I feel China is exactly the same as Iran,” said a financial professional and avid Twitter user in Shanghai, referring to Iran’s May ban of popular social networking site Facebook.
Twitter is an Internet-based text message service that allows users to post updates — called “tweets” — of no more than 140 characters.
Users in Beijing reported accessing the service without difficulty earlier on Tuesday, and even successfully searching potentially sensitive words such as “Tiananmen”.
While professional and urban Chinese often use foreign Internet tools, including Twitter, Hotmail and Facebook, the vast majority of Chinese use similar domestic services that are carefully monitored for any sign of content deemed subversive.
Access to video-sharing site YouTube, owned by Google was blocked in China in March, after overseas Tibetan groups posted graphic footage of China’s crackdown on protests by Tibetans in 2008.
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First Published: Tue, Jun 02 2009. 04 12 PM IST