"Twitter is a new thing in China. The censors need time to
figure out what it is. So enjoy the last happy days of twittering before
the fate of YouTube descends on it one day," veteran Chinese blogger Michael
Anti told the media blog Danwei in a May 27
The fate suffered by YouTube, which has been unavailable in China since
late March, came down late Tuesday afternoon, according to international news
reports. Twitter, a site for unusually free
discussion about Thursday's 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen violence
in 1989, was suddenly inaccessible for Chinese users. A project by the Berkman Center for
Internet and Society at Harvard
University called Herdict logs
individual user experiences of the site's accessibility on its Web site. Numerous
other sites also appeared to be newly blocked, including e-mail host Hotmail, and
the photo-sharing site Flickr, according to international news reports.
Technologically savvy Twitter users within China soon
reappeared on the site, courtesy of proxy servers and other software that allows
them to circumvent the restriction. The online community spread the news of the
ban, which was then reported by international news outlets including Reuters
and the London-based Guardian.
Chinese Internet users without that know-how were left with
one less opportunity to exchange information about the upcoming
anniversary. By the time Twitter user Zuola, a well-known Chinese blogger, tweeted the news that
Chinese security officials had asked him to leave Beijing for a few days, he was addressing a
mostly international audience.
CPJ is on Twitter as @pressfreedom.