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Fight Internet Censorship - Facebook In China
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Fight Internet Censorship  -  Facebook In China

Internet Censorship is nothing new to China, and since the rise of social media websites in the early 2000's, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Friendster, and others have had a hard time dealing with the infamous "Great Firewall" of China. Though some bans have been lifted, and some deals been made to allow Chinese netizens limited access to certain features of these sites, Facebook remains banned in China.

So why Facebook?

It seems obvious that Facebook represents freedom of speech. It's the ability to contact your friends and share ideas, comment on each others lives, and stay connected through a convenient, collective service.

But what isn't obvious is that it's also a way to start change. It's also a way to meet other like-minded individuals.

Facebook Groups are a way to collect people with a specific interest. What's most dangerous for China is that someone looking for change in government, or for change in everyday society, can start a group, find people of the same opinion, and conveniently organize them.

In combination with Twitter, which is also banned in China, live Tweeting of events means that it's even easier to organize these people for events in real time.

Though most likely this would be used for car enthusiasts events, coffee drinkers exchanges, and other types of hobby related 'going-ons', it's not that hard to imagine some motivated individuals to organize protests and rallies. We saw it in Egypt just last year.

How to fight internet censorship

There are ways to get around the censorship rules in China, thanks to technology. Now, virtual private networks are being used to tweet, like, and chat online with the privacy of a non-Chinese internet connection. Virtual private networks are business tools used to provide a way for employees to connect remotely to local servers overseas. Basically, a virtual tunnel is created to securely transport information over unsecured networks.

In this case, the secure information is your Tweet. The unsecured network is that of your Chinese ISP.

VPN services can be found online, and though some are unavailable in China, the vast majority are not blocked. Even those that are can simply set up a mirror site and 'fly under the radar' of the Chinese government.

For now, VPNs in China are able to operate with little trouble because the Chinese government has 'bigger fish to fry', so to speak. However, as someone who's lived in China previously, I do see a potential for private networks connection to be banned in the future. At present, neither the technology nor the motivation to ban these networks exist, so VPN use continues, and the number Facebook users in China is still growing.


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