China’s notorious firewall was down temporarily this week, allowing the Chinese to access Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other sites usually blocked by the country’s strict Internet controls.
The cause of the breach is currently unknown, Reuters reports. Internet users say the were able to access sites — without using expensive VPNs, as some do - Monday night and Tuesday. By Wednesday, however, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were again blocked.
During the firewall’s outage, many Chinese flocked to Google+, particularly to U.S. President Barack Obama’s page. They left many comments calling for freedom of expression, such as “the Chinese GOV doesn’t represent the Chinese people.”
China shuts down access to millions of foreign sites each year. The government believes that uncensored access to social networks would cause societal disruption.
Home-grown social networks, such as Sina Weibo (a microblog Twitter substitute) and Renren (a Facebook-like network) are popular, yet censor content in accordance with government regulations.