Tweets are filling my screen with reports that Twitter.com and Flickr.com are both inaccessible in Mainland China. They join YouTube, as well as WordPress and Blogger blogs as the latest casualties in the Great Firewall of China’s war against free speech.
Undoubtedly the blocks are in an effort to curb online commentary and the dissemination of information about the , which on celebrates its 20th anniversary.
As of this writing, my Twitter client, TweetDeck, was still able to send and receive tweets — however, tweets in Beijing and Shanghai seem to indicate it was being blocked as well (blocks tend to propagate at different rates depending on your location in China).
I can only predict the next few days will see more and more sites being blocked, hopefully with things returning to normal shortly after (though if past blocks are anything to go by, it could be weeks or months).
If you don’t have a good VPN, be sure to check out Hotspot Shield (free, but slow), or personalVPN/Witopia (minimal yearly fee, but fast). A VPN creates a secure tunnel that will allow you to view the Internet as if you were in the country the VPN is hosted in (US, UK, etc.). I have used services such as Tor in the past, but couldn’t stand the slow speed. I bit the bullet and signed up with WiTopia about a year ago and couldn’t be happier. I have no experience with Hotspot Shield, but have heard it is decent in a pinch.
If you know of other solutions, please post them below.