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Censorship The Internet Your Rights Online

Chinese Social Websites Go Under "Maintenance" 84

Posted by timothy
from the culture-of-repression dept.
Shastri writes "After blocking several prominent social websites like Twitter, Youtube ahead of Tiananmen anniversary, by the great firewall of China, some popular social sites in China have also gone under 'maintenance'. While it is anybody's guess as to whether these events are related or purely coincidental, the announced maintenance come mostly unscheduled and last for several days might give a hint. A spreadsheet (in Chinese) is being maintained enumerating the sites that have gone down for a maintenance."
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Chinese Social Websites Go Under "Maintenance"

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  • by aaandre (526056) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:30PM (#28202685)

    ...when governments realize that the truth of what they are actually doing will shock, disgust, appall their people.

    IMHO free flowing information is what ultimately caused taking down the Berlin wall.

    Now, that we know that our governments torture, steal, abuse their power, serve the money-printing oligarchy instead of serving us, what are we going to do?

    I guess... http://www.flickr.com/photos/andreinla/235687297/ [flickr.com]

    and

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/andreinla/3135176066/ [flickr.com]

  • Re:Solidarity? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:40PM (#28202839)
    ...Or it could be saving the creator's rears if the Chinese government detects a major protest on these sites and the sites owners were unaware and didn't stop it they might be held accountable and executed also. However, what you say may be true for some of the sites that aren't based out of China.
  • by Tycho (11893) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @07:39PM (#28203653)

    At a certain point, does shutting down various websites and muzzling the press have the opposite effect than intended? Will anger over shutdown websites have those not in the know to ask what happened on this day, and is this something worth clamping down on by the government? In other words does a government working too hard to suppress knowledge and direct opinions go too far and have the opposite effect and cause unfavorable results? Also, there are many Chinese factory workers that make all sorts of nice, legitimate products that they can't afford because they would need three months of their wages to buy it. Wouldn't it make you a bit angry, especially if you worked 60 hours a week, with few other benefits?

    Additionally, mainstream historians are currently of the opinion that what ended communist governments in Eastern Europe had little to do with Ronald Reagan's bluster. Instead, the current theory roughly goes that instead the citizens just got tired of the government became discontented, and found less overt ways to protest or rebel and eventually the unrest and general lack of popular support caused the government to collapse. Sorry, Reagan is God fans and libertarians, but large scale armed resistance or large scale protests will probably not happen in China and the final result will not be a libertarian paradise.

  • by vampire_baozi (1270720) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:32PM (#28204151)

    Just tried it too, same error. "Please don't post anything related to politics, etc....."

    Also, Xiaonei is definitely experiencing other problems- many of my friends have reported problems with the "sharing" feature, and most also know the reason why sample response: "Oh, that's because its today, didn't you know?"

    So, I think most Chinese know, or they can guess the reason why.

    I'd try posting a few other things as experiments on XIaonei and Tudou, but I'd rather not risk getting my visa revoked, thanks.

  • by LostInTaiwan (837924) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:35PM (#28204177)
    This may not be a bad thing. Every June 4th we mount an all out vigil for the Tienanmen Square massacre. We add it to our website, add it to every message and email we send out on that day. Maybe the "middle class" Chinese, the ones most likely to make a difference, the ones with the education and financial resources to access the web and interact with the rest of the world will notice something amiss within their "harmonious" society when every June 4th their Internet goes blank.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:41PM (#28204239)

    This "maintenance' was done by the webmasters themselves. When you look at the spreadsheet most websites are not that popular and created by hobbyists. Furthermore they stated that they participated voluntarily. Some of the messages are really interesting:

    thequietsnow.com:
    Due to a reason we all know this site is presently under maintenannce.
    The site will be under non-technical maintenance from 3. Juin to 6. Juin
    [...]
    For a harmonious environment, to make an appeal to create a harmonious sociaty, I advice all webmasters and internet users to do the following during maintenance period;
    1. Go out for a walk, get some fresh air, due to the hot weather, please wear a white t-shirt
    2. Since the current internet is extremely unharmonious, in order to create a healty and harmonious internet environment, please put all your websites into "maintenance state", in oder to provide a better net environment
    3. If you don't want to put your site into "maintenance state", please change your site into black and white colors, in oder to provide a better net environment
    4. Please put your site onto the maintenance spreedsheat.

    whenn.net:
    Long live the harmony~~~
    Due to a reason we all know
    In order to supress my extremely unharmonious thoughts
    this blog voluntarily will go under "technical and non-technical maintenance"

    passcd.com
    Just says "20" on the page

    So really, this "maintenance day" is a good sign. It makes a lot of net users aware of the event, since a lot of young Chinese haven't been confronted with this event a lot. This hopefully makes them to think more...

    On xiaonei, many statuses get blocked, too, with the warning not to post "politically sensitive" content. Being in Tsinghua as an international student, I've seen Chinese students testing and changing their statuses with messages like "Democracy, Freedom, CCP, ..." It was shortly after midnight that Xiaonei.com even crashed for a while due to the massive status changes. But it seems to me the young generation sees this testing more as a game and really doesn't grasp the seriousness.

    What really striked me was that one status saying "In memory of 8^2 5!/3! years" got deleted on xiaonei... (You math and comp sci nerds can figure the hidden message out ;) )

    Another thing I've noted is how pointless it is to talk with Chinese about their politics. They are extremely sensitive and immediately get defensive. A hong kong girl was talking about this event with a mainland student and she became very agitated. The chinese guy was absolutely overwhelmed by the critics, didn't know how to react (he was the only chinese in a group of international students) and immediately started to defend the government's action, saying things like sometimes politics has to use violence to achieve it's goal... (basically implying that they did the right thing)

    Anyway, I just hope that, untill China finally faces this event correctly, people in other countries will do all their efforts not to let it become forgotten.

  • by melikamp (631205) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:45PM (#28204263) Homepage Journal

    Babelfish + http://bbs.linyueru.com/ [linyueru.com]

    You have no right to carry on the current operation, because this possible below one of reasons to create

    The great Great Wall starts to assume an awe-inspiring pose, closes the forum to lie low until something blows over temporarily.

  • Purely Coincidental. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vampire_baozi (1270720) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:46PM (#28204269)

    Not.

    Chinese internet users aren't stupid, they know what is going on. In many cases, all it does is call attention to the anniversary, perhaps more than would have been paid otherwise.

    In any case, most Chinese I know seem fairly cynical about it. A translated conversation from Xiaonei, in response to a blog post by a friend about the economic crisis:

    AAA: Well written!! But why can't I share it? (think Facebook sharing, posting a link to it on your own homepage)
    BBB: Yeah, I can't share it either. Must be because it's today!
    000(the author): Well, I can post it, you guys should be able to share it....
    CCC: (a few comments about the actual content of the article)
    DDD: I guess Xiaonei is having problems recently. Anything with numbers seems to run into problems.
    AAA: Anything with certain numbers runs into problems around this time of year....
    EEE: I'm sure this maintenance is perfectly normal, as it is for all other Chinese websites right now.(sarcasm)
    BBB: There is no spoon~~! (this in English)
    FFF: Wow, nice word choice guys.
    Bad translation, there was a good pun or two in there I couldn't figure out how to translate. In any case, they're masters at not using any words censors would find suspicious. But they're all at least aware of it, even if its a minor annoyance.

    And it will probably remain just that: A minor annoyance for most, perhaps making them remember, but they don't care that much. The ones that really want to protest will just use text messages or IM anyway, and even they hardcore democracy types know where the line is drawn. For the most part, it seems really unnecessary. If they really wanted to organize protests, they'd have been organized long before the 3 days before the anniversary, and then use texting or cells or IM to expand. I doubt there will be any protests to speak of anyway- the Chinese sort of have a silent agreement here, they know where to draw the line.

  • by MMC Monster (602931) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:46PM (#28204271)

    To quote Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster, "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose".

    While China is economically prosperous, I wonder how many people in China are doing better now than they were 10 years ago. If the majority aren't doing better, they are in serious trouble. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon enough.

  • by Celeste R (1002377) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @09:12PM (#28204471)

    Generally, people don't mind so much if it's only an idea 'out there', instead of a concrete idea that they're dealing with.

    Now, that we know that our governments torture, steal, abuse their power, serve the money-printing oligarchy instead of serving us, what are we going to do?

    It's historically only been the observant people who protest, and oddly enough, they're also the first people who are silenced. Consider extortion, fear of material security, censorship, etc.

    As an observant person also, I see people pulling strings. A chinese proverb comes to mind (paraphrased): when the government becomes corrupt or unstable, go to the mountains. It makes sense when you think about it, because the insular safety and security of a remote location is an ideal thing for a family lineage.

    Granted, the possibility of us doing so is much smaller, because we (as an intellectual group of people) tend to stick to the population centers. However, we can move. We -can- move out of the nation to find political stability. We -can- have a hand not in fighting a system going downhill, but in building a system going uphill.

  • Parallels to the US (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @11:22PM (#28205379) Homepage

    Amazingly, there remain people, who would argue, that the US is either "the same" or "not much better", and deny, that China's human rights record is particularly bad.

    I mean, just imagine, the US government shutting down Twitter [marketingvox.com] or any Leftist web-site at around, say, Iraq-invasion anniversary...

  • by steelfood (895457) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @11:34PM (#28205437)

    It's the 20th anniversary of a certain event. I had expected something fairly flashy to originate from the online communities. You can think of this a moment of silence, if you'd like.

  • by Haeleth (414428) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @04:18AM (#28206655) Journal

    Well, yes, actually. Certainly US forces have done some terrible things in Iraq, murdering innocent civilians and torturing prisoners and so on, and that's clearly bad and very damaging.

    But there are two big differences between that and what the Chinese do.

    One is that the US military has consistently admitted its errors and prosecuted those responsible for crimes against the people of Iraq, while China continues to pretend that nothing bad has ever happened there.

    The other is that most of the bad things done by US forces in Iraq have been in violation of US policy, while most of the bad things done in China have the full support and approval of their government.

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