All These Moments

All These Moments

Random ramblings in writing.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Great Firewall of China Blocks Plurk

Plurk Layouts and report that Plurk has fallen victim to the Great Firewall of China, just like WordPress, YouTube, and parts of Wikipedia. This is not very surprising. The Chinese government has a considerable history of censoring websites with content they find politically undesireable.

What leads to a bit of head-scratching is that Twitter remains accessible in China. No one knows for sure why there is such a difference in enforcement, and the difference is confusing since Plurk is one of the websites introduced as, "It's like Twitter but..."

The difference in enforcement may just lie in the last word of that phrase. How is Plurk different from Twitter? Plurk pages are more customizable and the UI utilizes a horizontally scrolling timeline to surf posts, but these are merely aesthetic differences. Another major difference is that Plurk threads responses to a post instead of having a response posted on the user's timeline. (That is, a response is posted as a comment in a thread and not like an individual post, in case any non-Plurkers are confused.) I suspect that this is the reason why Plurk is blocked while Twitter remains accessible. The response structure on Plurk lends itself more to ongoing discussion, whereas responses on Twitter are usually kept to one tweet.

"[P]lurk is like a mini UN," Matthew Hughes once posted. Although most Plurks don't usually lead to intense political discussion, Hughes is still correct in asserting that there is a community on Plurk that is pretty dedicated to political discussion. I cannot speak for the (former?) Chinese Plurk community, since I don't know any Chinese, but I assume that this trend remains true despite language or region.

This could all be completely wrong though. Although it sounds like a reasonable explanation, we have to keep in mind that this is the People's Republican of China we are discussing. It is just as likely that I am looking for reason where there is none. Perhaps some Chinese official saw a single Plurk that displeased him and brought the hammer down on the whole website. No matter what reason the PRC has for blocking Plurk, it doesn't change the fact that practice of internet censorship is ethically reprehensible. I feel bad for the Chinese Plurkers who will now be left to find a new site to have discussions on. (I hear that Twitter site isn't too bad...)

Click here if you want to check out Plurk and join the fun.


Blogger JnA said...

freakin-a baby is eating my brain seriously!

It took me like 20 minutes to figure out how to follow your blog.

And plurk is awesome!! WOOT WOOT ^_^

8:54 PM  

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My name is Jared and I'm an English major at UT. Politically I'm a mix of libertarian and neocon with a heavy dose of sarcasm. Otherwise I'm just a typical nerd.

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