02
Jun
2009

China’s Great Firewall Blocks Twitter, Flickr, Hotmail, Live, Bing

blocked-in-china

Reports flooding in from around the internet have confirmed that Twitter, Flickr, Hotmail (see update below), Live, and Bing (Microsoft’s new search engine) have joined YouTube, Blogspot, and WordPress.com (amongst countless others) in being blocked from internet users in China. Wikipedia remains unblocked …though I might have just jinxed it by saying so.

If you’re looking for ways around the blocks, Ryan at Lost Laowai, has two recommendations:

If you don’t have a good VPN, be sure to check out Hotspot Shield (free, but slow), or personalVPN/Witopia (minimal yearly fee, but fast). A VPN creates a secure tunnel that will allow you to view the Internet as if you were in the country the VPN is hosted in (US, UK, etc.). I have used services such as Tor in the past, but couldn’t stand the slow speed. I bit the bullet and signed up with WiTopia about a year ago and couldn’t be happier. I have no experience with Hotspot Shield, but have heard it is decent in a pinch.

Chinese blog Very Yellow, Very Violent also threw up a temporary solution for accessing Twitter:

临时访问Twitter的解决方案,将:

168.143.162.100 twitter.com www.twitter.com

这段加到 hosts 文件,Windows 在 C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc 目录下,Linux/Mac 在 /etc/hosts

It suggests adding that line to your hosts file, at the above locations in Windows and Linux/Mac. Unfortunately, having tried it, I don’t think it works. Anyone else try it?

If you’re looking for more options, however, be sure NOT to listen to the sage guidance offered by Mashable:

As far as solutions for evading the block go, you can find some advice here and here.

Right, like anyone currently blocked is able to use Twitter Search to search for tweets about VPNs and Hot Spot Shield. Smart. Good job, Mashable.

As we reported about two weeks ago, however, you can check out some of the options offered by Shanghaiist:

  1. Find a good proxy page. Coobai and G-Proxy are good for most sites, but if you’re itching to hit up YouTube, give Coolkidsonly or YouTube Proxy a try. Just plug in the address and continue surfing.
  2. GLadder. ONLY FOR FIREFOX USERS. Install it in your browser and click the little ladder button to turn it on. Works off a customizable site list, so you won’t be redirected through a proxy when you try to reach non-banned sites.
  3. Anchorfree. It has some pop-ups, adds an ad banner to every page and it’ll sometimes redirect you without warning, but for the most part, it’s easy and painfree. Download, install and you’re up and running.
  4. TOR (The Onion Router). At times a little clumsy and slow, but completely ad-free. Again, all you have to do is download and install.
  5. GAppProxy. Google comes to the rescue once again. This isn’t the most straightforward fix, but it’s reliable and hassle-free once you figure it out. Download the GAppProxy here, then follow these instructions to build yourself a proxy server on the Google App Engine.

Many people are wondering if MSN Messenger is next to be blocked yet given how many Chinese people (especially in the offices) use it, blocking it sounds unfathomable. Then again, Hotmail is blocked, so maybe all bets are off.

Whatever the case, even many Chinese are scratching their heads in consternation wondering just how “immature” and “shameless” the Chinese central government responsible for these blocks can be. Those Chinese who are aware of the big anniversary coming up in the next two days (the carnage began on the night of the 3rd) point out that the vast majority of China’s youth are ignorant of the event as it is, so why bother blocking so many websites?

Indeed, one would imagine that doing so would only clue the ignorant masses that something was amiss, further spurring their curiosity to find out just what’s got the government’s giant knickers in a bunch. If nothing else, these blocks might annoy the foreigner population that regularly use these websites enough to inspire them to campaign even more fervently to their surrounding Chinese the information that has been veiled from their eyes and minds. Wouldn’t all this potentially offset whatever gains the government could receive from such blocks?

Eh, maybe not. At best, shrug.

Here’s to crossing our fingers and hoping things get better a couple days from now.

June 3rd UPDATE: Very Yellow, Very Violent has a new post with some easy options to get on Twitter:

1. 使用前一个帖子的改hosts方案
2. 使用本站自架的twitter平台 http://hen.huang.hen.bao.li/twitter/
3. 使用 http://hellotxt.com/ 等第三方 twitter 平台
4. 在自己的海外服务器上安装dabr (就是本站用的系统),Linux主机上只需

svn checkout http://dabr.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/ twitter
mv twitter/config.sample.php twitter/config.php

蚂蚁雄兵干死GFW!

I’ve tested #2 and the website for #3 works.

June 3rd, 12:40pm UPDATE: Jason Zhan from IN2marcom updates us in the comments below that Microsoft’s popular free e-mail service Hotmail is once again available in Shanghai (and perhaps the rest of China?). If I had to guess, I’d say enough Chinese people relying on Hotmail for business purposes bitched for the government to unblock it.

June 3rd 11:30pm UPDATE: Just had great Indian food with the ever-lovable Kaiser Kuo who is here visiting Shanghai and realized how incredibly wrong I was about Hotmail in China. While I knew that many more Chinese netizens use other services such as QQ, Sina, 163/Netease, etc., I had assumed that a decent amount of Chinese netizens use Hotmail, given that it was the quintessential first-mover success story of free e-mail. Kaiser enlightened me to how mistaken I was, reminding me that while Hotmail was a first-mover, it had entered China when the internet user population was still quite small. More importantly, while many Chinese do indeed have Hotmail accounts, they were largely used only to register for MSN Messenger, and not really as their primary e-mail account. Kaiser didn’t even have to finish that sentence for “DUH” to materialize over my head. Ugh, what a brainfart on my part.

June 8th 3:30pm UPDATE: Twitter and Flickr seem to be unblocked and accessible again.

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