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China Blocks Access To Instagram

View From The Mainland Restricted

Instagram was one of the only survivors in China's battle against popular social media networks. While Facebook and Twitter are blocked on mainland China, you could still share interesting and pretty filtered pictures on Instagram. What does the Chinese government suddenly have against filtered pictures of pugs and shoes? Jokes aside, amidst the usual photos, Instagram is also being used to spread pictures of the protests still taking place in Hong Kong.

The Chinese government does not want mainland China to find out about these protests and their violent reaction to them. Over the weekend, a peaceful protest organized by Occupy Central took place in Hong Kong, which escalated very quickly as the Chinese police's response was surprisingly violent. They arrived fully armed, threatening the crowd with rubber bullets. They tried to disperse the crowd with tear gas, which worked for a while but also pushed more people to join the protest who came prepared to face the tear gas.

These protest were organized in response to China's decision that in 2017, while Hong Kong will be able to vote for a Chief Executive, the candidates will be selected by the Chinese government. Hong Kong has had its own special status within China, maintaining some independence from the Chinese government since 1997. The news of China's decision unsettles deep fears that it will one day revoke Hong Kong's special status. If this were to happen, Hong Kong would lose its democratic advantage and be a part of a government a lot more strict and controlling then they are used to.

China has a long history of trying to control what its people can see on the internet or not, having already blocked Facebook and Twitter. Instagram was blocked due to people sharing pictures of the police's violent response with the hashtag #occupycentral. The Chinese government obviously fears people's reaction if they were to find out, also blocking the 'Hong Kong Tear Gas' search on the Chinese social media, Shina Weibo.

The flip side of social media is that while it can be used to spread revolutionary ideas and pictures, it can also be used to control information. The protests in Hong Kong almost echo the Arab Spring, but hopes that it might spread to mainland China in support are dashed as China controls social media as best it can. Of course some pictures may escape through the Chinese government's grasp, but it is unlikely that we would even hear about any protests as long as the Chinese people's revolutionary tools are being controlled by their government.

Laura is a recent graduate from University of East Anglia in Film and Television Studies, currently interning as a content writer but hoping to one day live off her writing. Follow her @LauraAtSMF.

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China Blocks Access To Instagram Reviewed by Anonymous on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 Rating: 5
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