The Long List Of Websites That Have Once Been Blocked Or Censored In China

china firewall censorship

Photo: teach42 via flickr

If you don’t completely comply with the Chinese government’s regulations in censoring politically sensitive information, there’s a good chance the Great Firewall of China will shut you down.In 2010, China shut down 1.3 million Web sites, allowing access to 41 per cent fewer than the previous year.

In 2009, the country announced its initiative to terminate pornography, but judging from the country’s growing blacklist — Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, IMDB, YouTube and your very own Business Insider — any site challenging Chinese politics will be eliminated — fast.

1997: Voice of America

Voice of America -- an international broadcast institution known for its politically-driven coverage -- has been blocked in China since 1997.

In 2001, the Mandarin-language Web site sought to hire a CIA-funded internet company to assist with getting around the censorship.

The company's short-wave broadcasts have been 'jammed' since 1989.

2002: Google

It's the quinessential on-again, off-again relationship:

Analysts believe the first time Google was blocked in the mainland was in 2002.

When the company agreed to China's censorship rules in 2006, a Chinese version was launched but issues quickly emerged between the two players.

Google attempted to work with China to censor certain searches -- such as Tiananment Square or the word 'river' to halt searches on former leader Jiang Zemin -- but the company's policy against storing personal data in China restricted Gmail, Blogger and even Picasa from users.

Shortly after Google Plus' launch, rumours instantly circulated that the social media site had been blocked in the mainland.

Penn Olson reports that Google+ is not actually blocked in China but experiencing heavy server issues making it very difficult to use.

In other words, it is censored.

2004: Wikipedia

On the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, Chinese Wikipedia became blocked for the first time in 2004. A short year later, it was blocked again.

In 2007, the block was lifted except for specific articles on Falun Gong and Tiananmen Square.

2006: WordPress

Officials from the WordPress blogging software said they could have been accessible in China if they'd agree to censoring certain words.

The company refused to comply and have been banned from the mainland since 2006.

Google's Blogspot hasn't been censored as strictly but still falls victim under the Great Firewall from time to time.

2008: Huffington Post

During the pre-Olympic media crackdown, The Huffington Post joined the endless list of Web sites that would load an 'error' message rather than allowing access to the readers.

2008: The New York Times

Shortly after the Chinese government announced its right to censor 'illegal' online content, The New York Times reported its site had been blocked in the mainland.

It is unclear whether the block was targeted at certain content or if it was a more generalized censorship.

2008: YouTube

'Network Timeout. The server at is taking too long to respond' is the message users receive if they try to access YouTube in China.

The first time the video-sharing Web site was blocked was in 2008 during riots in Tibet.

'China is not afraid of the Internet,' said Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang. 'We manage the Internet according to law ... to prevent the spread of harmful information.'

2009: Facebook

In 2009, after deadly riots broke out in Xinjiang, Facebook users noticed they could no longer access the site.

In order for Facebook to be accessible to the Chinese, Mark Zuckerberg would have to agree to censorship policies that could be ridiculed in the U.S.

'How can you connect the whole world if you leave out a billion people?' Zuckerberg said to a Stanford University audience in 2010.

2009: Twitter

Twitter becomes blocked two days before the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. On June 4, 1989, armed soldiers opened fire on an unknown number of students and lecturers rallying for democracy in Tiananmen Square.

2010: WikiLeaks

While the rest of the world couldn't get enough of the embarrassing classified documents released on WikiLeaks, China wastes no time shutting it down while adding a slight reminder to the U.S. to 'properly handle the relevant issue.'

2010: Internet Movie Database joined China's blacklist after the release of the documentary 'When the Dragon Swallowed the Sun,' a film portraying the country's brutality against the Tibetan people.

2010: BBC

Shortly before political activist Liu Xiabao was set to be honored at the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, BBC users discovered the site had been blocked -- once again.

Liu is currently serving an 11-year sentence in a China prison.

The last time BBC English was blocked was shortly before the Beijing Olympics.

The BBC News Web site has been blocked on-and-off for nearly a decade and BBC Chinese has been blocked since 1999.

2010: Foursquare

On the 21st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Great Firewall of China striked on the social networking site Foursquare when people began checking into the Square and leaving 'sensitive messages' on the site's board.

2011: LinkedIn

China's social media crackdown continues with LinkedIn being the culprit in February 2011. The networking site for professionals became the government's target after a user commented that the 'Jasmine Revolution' should spread to China.

Ongoing: Amnesty International

Except for a brief period in 2008 before and after the Beijing Olympics, Amnesty International's Web site has been blocked in the mainland on-and-off for years.

Ongoing: Playboy

In China, the brand Playboy is associated with fashion more than an image of a scantily dressed -- if at all -- playboy bunny since those living in China may not have ever laid eyes on the infamous photographs.

Playboy's racy magazines are banned from shelves and the Web site has been blocked for years.

What else has been behind the Great Firewall?

Asian American Baptist Church
Association of Christian Community Computer centres
American Cancer Society
MIT Alumni Association
The United States Army
The China Times
Federal Judicial centre
George Washington University
Los Angeles Times
U.S. Navy's Official Web Site
The University of Virginia
The Washington Post
Space Science Division, NASA

Source: The Berkman centre for Internet and Society at Harvard University

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