Wednesday, March 25, 2009

China Censors YouTube (again)...

It must be that time of the month. Like clockwork, it's time again for the seemingly obligatory post describing the Chinese government's latest attempt to censor YouTube.

The row this time is over a video, released by the exiled Tibetan government, depicting Chinese police officers brutally beating Tibetans after riots last year in Lhasa. Normally, China will censor individual videos, but this time it decided to apparently block the entire YouTube website.

As I've described before, the so-called "Great Firewall of China" works so well because it's extremely subtle. Rather than outright censoring websites, it simply makes specific pages take too long to load, so users wind up going to different destinations out of impatience. From my own analysis of the Great Firewall performed while in China, I can attest to the fact that most people never even know when a site is being censored. Contrary to American perceptions, Chinese users never receive some ominous warning that the police are coming to get them for visiting a banned site. They just grow impatient with the loading time, and move on with their lives.

This is a recurring story that always gets lots of coverage in the blogosphere, and while it's important for citizen journalists to act as watchdogs and report such happenings, the real story lies in whether Google (which owns YouTube) chooses to remove the controversial video in order to appease a Chinese government with whom it wants to conduct business, or, conversely, whether Google will leave the video in place, sticking to its stated principle to "Do No Evil".

Bloggers ought to follow-up on THAT story.
  

6 Comments:

At 3:57 PM, Blogger Rob Domanski said...

This post actually has a thread going with over 20 comments. It can be found at: http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/87dvm/the_great_firewall_of_china_works_so_well_because/

Don't you just hate when that happens?

 
At 7:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you've been to china, you know that the pages dont take to long to load. instead it just quickly displays the "connection reset while page was loading" error.

 
At 10:32 PM, Blogger Rob Domanski said...

Same difference. When I said that the page takes too long to load, and thus people grow impatient and give up, I did not mean the page eventually does load. It doesn't. It continues to "try" loading in perpetuity.

 
At 12:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

there used to be proxy websites available, such as Ibypass or Anonymouse. now they have been blocked as well.

Livejournal is also blocked. Wikipedia, wordpress and blogspot used to be blocked, now they work again. Tumblr is blocked. As well as some file sharing websites. It is quite annoying.

 
At 2:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(stupidly) out of curiosity, i sent a banned website link to a friend in china over instant messenger to find out what exactly he saw. i received no response from him...and then he signed off. for all i know, he may not have even clicked the link or perhaps he thought nothing of it and went to lunch or something, but i have this horrible image of him getting a knock on the door from the commissar. i hope i am just being paranoid. any ideas as to what the consequences could be?

 
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