China attempts to erase Tiananmen square protests from the web

Chinese authorities marked the 23rd anniversary of the 1989 crackdown against protesters at Tiananmen Square by blocking net access to search terms relating to the event.

China’s censors blocked internet access to the terms “six four,”23,” “candle” and “never forget”, while China’s main microblogging platform, Sina Weibo, also deactivated the candle emoticon, which is commonly used on the web to mourn deaths.

Clever users who tried to overcome this by using the Olympic flame symbol were also stopped,  with the site deactivating this symbol too.

People searching to images relating to the event, such as Tiananmen Square, were presented with bland descriptions of the square and photos of tourists around the main landmark.

The censorship of such search terms on the anniversary of this event is nothing new.

Discussions of the day, which saw hundreds of protesters shot dead, have remained a huge taboo in the country despite countries such as the US demanding a full account of what happened. Of course, the US’s record is not much to shout about, either.

Despite the government remaining tight-lipped, human rights groups estimate that the fateful day saw around several hundred to several thousand killed

“It’s that day again and once more numerous posts are being deleted,” a Weibo microblogger was quoted by the Taipei Times as writing.

However, some people did manage to beat the censors, and a few pictures of the 1989 protests did find their way onto the web.

Analysts told the BBC that this year’s censorship was even more crucial for Beijing as the government prepared for a leadership handover.