China blocks Technorati

I received an email this morning from Ken Carroll of ChinesePod telling me that China has blocked Technorati at the great firewall – it would appear that Technorati will no longer be available to anyone to use in China.

Co-incidentally, when I interviewed Technorati’s CEO David Sifry on the PodLeaders show a couple of weeks back, Ken submitted the following question for David –

Do you have a China strategy? What do you foresee there in terms of blogging and blog search?

Does this mean Technorati isn’t censoring search results into China like Google, MSN, Yahoo are? And if this is the case, will Technorati now have to start doing the Chinese government’s censorship job for them if they wish to be seen in China once more?

I have posted about this topic in the past and, in my naive opinion, unless all the search engines come together to formulate a common China strategy, China will continue to pick them off one by one.

UPDATE:
I see the Mad About Shanghai blog is also reporting that Technorati is being blocked in China.

FURTHER UPDATE – it looks like a couple of sites are now reporting that Technorati is available once more in China – can anyone else confirm that?

63 thoughts on “China blocks Technorati”

  1. I live on Technorati. I’m an addict who visits it 20 times a day! I can access it via a proxy, but that’s a pain. I guess I’ll be using Feedster or Icerocket now. It’s just that Technorati just has that brand – somehow more attractive than the others!

    Who knos what will happen? In China anything could change tomorrow. I wouldn’t be surprised if Technorai was back in a day or two. On the other hand, it could be permanent.

    Ironically, this is a bit like being banned by Google – happned to me last year on another site. Nothing you can do or say, just wait and see.Nor do the people who ban you give you the vaguest hope of an explanation.

    It’s hard to imagine what Technorati were nailed for. I’ll get someone to comb the Chinese blogosphere to see why they were banned.

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  4. Yep, same thing happened to WordPress.com a few months ago. We even came back for a few days, then were banned again. It’s pretty hard to figure out who to contact about it.

    What I did notice though was while our traffic disappeared from China, we started seeing huge bursts from other Asian countries like Singapore which I suspect is people coming to us through proxies.

  5. The block probably follows the same logic that the recent NYT article on Google discussed, specifically:

    Google posed a unique problem for the censors: Because the company had no office at the time inside the country, the Chinese government had no legal authority over it — no ability to demand that Google voluntarily withhold its search results from Chinese users. And the firewall only half-worked in Google’s case: it could block sites that Google pointed to, but in some cases it would let slip through a list of search results that included banned sites. So if you were in Shanghai and you searched for “human rights in China” on google.com, you would get a list of search results that included Human Rights in China (hrichina.org), a New York-based organization whose Web site is banned by the Chinese government. But if you tried to follow the link to hrichina.org, you would get nothing but an error message; the firewall would block the page. You could see that the banned sites existed, in other words, but you couldn’t reach them. Government officials didn’t like this situation — Chinese citizens were receiving constant reminders that their leaders felt threatened by certain subjects — but Google was popular enough that they were reluctant to block it entirely.

    Technorati is not particularily popular in China so it will be interesting to see how they react.

  6. Repost of a comment that may or may not show up on GapingVoid, whence I linked in here:

    If you leave aside any freedom-of-speech angle for a second, you have to realize:

    1. Technorati ceases to be useful *at all* if it censors things. A search engine with a gatekeeper can be better or worse for it, but a folksonomist with a gatekeeper is just plain broken.

    2. The Chinese government, insofar as they want to block things that don’t self-censor, pretty well has to block it, since it’s *exactly* the kind of service that would call unwanted attention to undesirable reports on unhappy developments in China, in real time. If you don’t block the likes of Technorati, you might as well throw in the censorship towel.

    If I were running the Great Firewall, I’d be smarter about this sort of thing. Instead of blocking something like Technorati, I’d selectively censor their content. Imagine a Great Greasemonkey User Script…

    Anyway, getting around this kind of thing is easy on one level. It’s trivial to take, say, a Technorati RSS feed and put it on your blog without resorting to any client-side calls to their servers. That’s so, like, Perl4. 😉

    But that raises another, potentially scarier possibility:

    What if your censoring body doesn’t just block Technorati, but rather uses it as an index of what else to block?

    It’s important to remember that in the whole China-Internet debate, there are people on the Chinese Government side trying to be the Whac-a-Mole champions just like there are on the other side. And I’d be surprised if they were less convinced of the rightousness of their cause.

    Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whac-A-Mole

    Funny: http://www.spymuseum.org/games/mole.html

  7. Bizarrely, the itunes uk music store has been offline for about a week now (or at least it can’t be accessed from Beijing).

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  9. Technorati access has been slow and patchy in China for quite a while. Over past few months, sometimes I can access it, sometimes I can’t. Depends on what mood the Chinese Government Net Nannies are in. Given that we have just gone through a “sensitive time” politically (Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to the U.S.), no big surprise that they would shut off the taps for a while.

  10. P.S. Incidentally, if we managed to attract enough attention that the Chinese government saw fit to block us, we would wear it as a badge of honour! But then that’s just us…

  11. Our site, Blogsome had a couple of thousand bloggers from China until it was blocked last summer. In an upgrade we changed IP address – it took them about 2 weeks to block it again.

  12. Japanese Technorati has not banned yet, you may use it instead of original Technorati.(but JP ver. doesn’t have enough function like original one..)

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  14. Just to keep you informed, Technorati is down again in China. It was restored for a few days last week, but it disappeared again. This is just just conjecture, but it could be soemthing to do with lead up to the Tiananmen anniversary on June 4th. Hopefully after that things will return to normal.

    I really miss my Technorati.

    Btw, have you seen http://www.sphere.com/? It’s so so right now, but it looks promising.

  15. It useless to say anything,what you can do is only wait……
    Do not wish real freedom in china.

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  17. …and here in Beijing google.com and google.co.uk no longer work. Even the english language option on google.cn fails

  18. I’ve had trouble getting wikipedia ever since I’ve been in China (three years). I have had others tell me they can get it, however. Is this selective censoring? How would I be a threat if that’s so? I understand that such an open knowledge base could be threatening, depending on the content of articles on topics such as Tiananmen Square, Tibet, etc.. But to rob the Chinese people of such a valuable resource seems counter-productive. Selective blocking would serve the purpose of those who believe they need to control their people’s minds without robbing them of knowledge which could help this country develop. I usually just want to get good information for travel articles.

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