Using Proxy Servers to Help the Hong Kong Protesters...
The Chinese government is cracking down on the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong using tear gas and other heavy-handed methods, and have also begun censoring Internet content and online social media. Hong Kong, being a semi-autonomous region, typically experiences less of the Great Firewall than does most of China proper, however due to fears of the demonstrations spreading further, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, numerous blogs and wikis, search engine results, and more are all being blocked for residents of the island to varying degrees.
As reported by CNN, users cannot view images on Instagram and are instead directed to a message that reads, "Can't refresh feed". Meanwhile...
Searches on China's top search engine sites such as Baidu and Sogou for the terms "Hong Kong protest" or even "Hong Kong students" yielded irrelevant results such as stories showing a a blissful image of Hong Kong residents picnicking on the grass or how Hong Kong is welcoming tourists from the mainland during the national holiday week.
When relevant results appeared on the Chinese search engines, the articles contained a distinctively pro-China slant and even surfaced a month-old article about a small pro-Beijing counter-protest in Hong Kong.
This can hardly be considered a surprising development, and if there is a positive consequence of the Chinese government's pattern of censorship over time it is that there is an entire infrastructure already in place to help users circumvent the Great Firewall and access the sites that are being censored.
Basically, protesters and residents of Hong Kong need to use a proxy server. Proxy servers will tunnel users' Internet traffic through to their destination sites, while masking that destination to the filters. Users can find available proxy servers pretty easily on constantly updated public lists.
Meanwhile, for anyone observing the events in Hong Kong from afar who would like to help, setting up a proxy server for others to use is fairly simple and free. As with many hacktivist tools these days, no programming expertise is required.