China puts more blocks on social media – report

Social notworking may be taking another battering from the hammer, not sickle, of Chinese authorities, as reports flood in that services similar to Twitter have been sent back to the internet stone age of “testing mode” and access has been made difficult.

NetEase.com runs a microblogging service similar to Twitter. It’s been down in China since 7PM Tuesday and a notice posted on the site says that it’s “under maintenance”. Sohu.com’s microblog also got shut down earlier this week with the posted notice saying that it’s in “testing mode”. This comes as Chinese officials have made another run at clamping down on the world wide wibble – as Nick Farrell reported, it wants to make the internet its propaganda machine.

AP reported that the Chinese Communist Party released a secret strategy for turning the internet into a force for keeping it in power and protecting “soft power” abroad.

The Oriental Morning Post in Shanghai has listed industry sources as claiming that social media is under pressure from Chinese officials with a lot of red tape and tip-ex. “Nobody will publicly announce the reason, but it as obvious as a fly on a bald head,” a source said.

Twitter and social networking is a dangerous game for governments who want to keep the flow of information coming directly from them, as proved by the dodgy elections over in Iran. Instead of having to rely on sporadic reports, the nation took to Twitter to air grievances and post pictures of what was actually going on. This made it difficult for Mahmoudnejad to keep convincing people with state-run media that all was fine and dandy and it was just a small group of pro-Western, unIslamic dissenters that were rebelling.

Social networking has transformed the way we see news in crisis zones or those under heavy censorship. Instead of on-the-spot reporting and relying on journalists who are often placed in danger or being controlled by ruling governments, a Tweet or a blog post has more power than ever.

If China is further ramping up its control game, it would make sense that it is trying to stop the flow of communication – though it won’t go down well.