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March 25, 2009
China blocks YouTube and calls violent Tibet video a fake

China blocked the video-sharing network YouTube and the government denounced footage from a Tibetan exile group appearing to show security forces beating Tibetans in Lhasa last year.

Officials called the footage “lies,” adding that the government is not afraid of the Internet.

Watch the video in question below (warning: violence):

Worldfocus associate producer Hsin-Yin Lee translated comments from popular Chinese Web portal, “Sohu,” in which anonymous Chinese Internet users react to the YouTube block:

Commenter 1: I hope that YouTube could be back to normal very soon. It’s an important access for me to know different cultures. It helps me a lot on my job by downloading educational materials.

Commenter 2: Let’s get those trashy Western Web sites out of China! We have more than 10 popular video sharing Web sites and it will keep growing!

Commenter 3: Is the government really not afraid of the Internet? If not, why doesn’t it allow different voices to speak online? Monitoring is necessary, but over-monitoring will impair the freedom of speech.

Global Voices Advocacy suggests methods to get around the blockade.

Stan Schroeder of “Mashable” questions the effectiveness of such bans:

Normally, the video would probably be noticed by a handful of people interested in the matter; this way, everyone has seen it (or heard of it). one has to wonder how effective these bans are, since tools like Twitter make it incredibly easy for people to spread the news about incidents like this one. Proving that a video is fake would probably be a much better tactic than banning a site viewed by millions of people every day, and then claiming you’re not afraid of the Internet; it just doesn’t hold water.

A blogger at “Marketing Shift” writes that beyond free speech issues, the continued bans may end up hurting prospects for China’s smartphone market:

China’s receiving widespread criticism for its oppresion of free speech, but we should also consider the implications for tech corporations and developers.

Imagine yourself as the CEO of a Tech company who wants to tap into China’s expanding 3G market , but why bother wasting your [research and development] on a nation that may block user access to you for any reason, at any time? In my opinion, China’s erratic behavior could overshadow the potential market of 700 million new mobile users.

Read  more about Internet censorship around the globe: Blog censorship silences free speech around the world.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user keso under a Creative Commons license.

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