No Facebook. No Twitter. No Google+. These sites were blocked in China since 2009 onwards. But they are coming back soon.
Internet censorship in China
The internet arrived in China in 1994. The Golden Shield Project popularly known as the Great Firewall of China was started in 1998 and began operations in 2003. This project was based on Deng Xiaoping’s saying, “If you open the window to fresh air, you have to expect some flies to blow in.”
Some of the current methods used by the Chinese internet police include IP blocking, DNS filtering and redirection, packet filtering, URL filtering, TCP connection reset and VPN blocking.
China has also blacklisted certain keywords from search engines. These are keywords such as democracy, human rights, dictatorship, communism, communist party, Dalai Lama, Chinese democracy movement, Tibet and so on.
Photo and video sharing sites, blogging platforms, discussion forums, peer-to-peer sites and pornography are also blocked.
The lift on the social media ban
The South China Morning Post recently reported that the ban on internet access will be lifted. However, this access will be available only within the Shanghai Free-trade Zone. This region is a mere 28 sq-km out of mainland China’s 9.3 million sq.km area.
China undoubtedly is a huge market and has a largest internet population. This move is a part of the economic and financial reforms that the Chinese government is experimenting with.
The Chinese alternative
All over the world, social media is dominated by Facebook and Twitter. However, China has its own networks, which exceed 100 million active users.
Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo are the Chinese equivalents of Twitter. Weibo means microblog. Qzone is China’s largest social networking site. RenRen, another social networking site has a design that is similar to Facebook. Youku Tudou is a video-sharing site similar to YouTube. Soso is the Google of China and can easily be mistaken for the previous Google China website. Baidu is another popular search engine in China.