Chinese web users were able to access blocked and censored websites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube earlier this week during an apparent glitch in China’s ‘Great Firewall’.
Chinese web users were able to access uncensored, unblocked content from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other previously restricted websites earlier this week.
Although it is still not yet clear how, it seems that a crack in China’s Great Firewall was discovered, and was quickly seized upon by eager users.
“I used Facebook for the first time yesterday,” Zhang Weijin, a 23 year old student said. “I’m sure there was suddenly a lot of people who signed up for Facebook yesterday,” he added.
The brief lapse in the Firewall was reported by University students on Monday evening and Tuesday morning, who were surprised to suddenly be able to access sites like YouTube completely freely.
China has its own popular microblogging sites like Sina Weibo, but many Western sites — in particular social networking sites — are blocked on the mainland.
The firewall appears to have since been reinstated, but the brief glimpse of what Chinese web users have to say has been very illuminating.
Over the weekend U.S. President Barrack Obama found his Google+ page overwhelmed with messages from Chinese web users, who had managed to get through the weakness in the firewall.
The messages had a unifying theme, a call for attention, “the Chinese GOV doesn’t represent the Chinese people” said one. “Oppose censorship, oppose the Great Firewall of China!” said another.
They even jokingly referred to the sudden flood of comments as “occupying” the page, as a sign of solidarity to the other Occupy movements across America.
Apparently users were able to access the Google+ page through their mobiles, but it is still not clear what caused the more widespread lull in security that followed.
China has heavy restrictions on online content, despite being the world’s largest Internet community with around 500 million users. Although some have found ways to get around this censorship, paying for virtual private networks to bypass it, this latest breach might cause a severe crackdown on such services.