For unknown reasons, Chinese web users were able to get past that country’s firewall, and briefly access typically blocked social networking sites like Facebook, Youtube and Twitter. China typically blocks any website its government might deem as a threat to social stability, and puts similar products in place which censor whatever they’d like, including renren, the Chinese Facebook.
“I can suddenly access YouTube! No need to breach the firewall!” Weibo member (Weibo is akin to Twitter) Arvin Xie posted Tuesday. “I used Facebook for the first time yesterday,” Zhang Wenjin told Reuters. The 23-year-old student at Shanghai’s prestigious Jiao Tong University also signed up for an account, adding, “I went on and took a look. I’m sure there were suddenly a lot of people who signed up on Facebook yesterday.”
The mysterious firewall breach lasted Monday and Tuesday, with internet users being able to access the sites on PC’s and mobile devices. As of today, access to Facebook, Google and Twitter was again blocked. Some internet users in China pay for virtual private networks which bypass firewalls, but the government is also cracking down on this as well.
Chinese users were also recently able to access to the mobile version of Google +, leading to many comments on Barack Obama’s re-election page, interestingly asking him to basically help save them from their government. China has over 500 million online users, the largest web community in the world, and studies have shown that the Chinese people are more engaged in social media than users are in the U.S.