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Monday, June 11, 2012

China Censored Tiananmen Square Protests Online

The country’s government didn’t forget about the 23rd anniversary of the 1989 crackdown against protesters at Tiananmen Square: they blocked Internet access to search terms associated with the event.

The country’s censors blocked access to such terms as “six four”, “23”, “candle” and “never forget”. At the same time, Sina Weibo, the largest microblogging platform in the country, also deactivated the candle emoticon on their site, which is usually used online to mourn deaths. Some people tried to bypass this by using the Olympic flame symbol, but were stopped by the service which quickly deactivated that symbol too. People looking for images associated with the event, like Tiananmen Square, could only find bland descriptions of the square and pictures of tourists around the main landmark.

However, the censorship of such search terms on the anniversary of Tiananmen Square Protests is something people have already got used to. Discussions of the day when hundreds of protesters were shot dead still remain a huge taboo in China despite countries like the United States demanding a full account of what happened that day. Well, the record of the United States isn’t much to shout about, either.

Although the government remained tight-lipped, human rights organizations estimate that that day saw hundreds if not thousands killed. And at its anniversary numerous posts are being deleted again. Nevertheless, a few people did manage to overcome the censors, while several images of the 1989 protests also found their way onto the Internet. The experts point out that this year’s censorship appeared to be even more crucial for the capital of the country, because the government prepared for a leadership handover.

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