Chinese Social Media Suddenly Schedules Three-Day ‘Systems Upgrade’ For Tiananmen Square Massacre Anniversary
Weibo, China’s version of the social media platform Twitter, reportedly prohibited millions of users from posting certain content during the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
The biggest microblogging service in the country blocked all foreign-based users from uploading videos or pictures from Saturday until the end of Monday, according to the Financial Times. The Twitter-esque platform claims it only restricted users abroad during that ostensibly coincidental time period because it required a “systems upgrade,” according to the Financial Times.
Also known as June Fourth Incident (denoting the date of the massive demonstrations), the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 ultimately transpired into a bloody battle between troops and citizens. While China doesn’t keep records of the massacre, it is estimated that hundreds were killed during the protests. The Chinese government rarely (if ever) talks about the protests and subsequent military intervention, and forbids any public discussion about the event.
Weibo launched more than a month after Twitter was formally blocked in China. The site is managed by Weibo Corporation, a private and purportedly independent entity. Like Twitter and Facebook, which is also banned in the country, Weibo is supposed to serve as a channel for free expression and speech.
Overseas users, though, were reportedly unable to change their profile information, like names and accompanying images, and were barred from posting certain content. Social media users often enjoy altering their profile pictures and publishing videos to commemorate specific historic occurrences or causes.
While it is not yet proven if Weibo was directly regulated by the state in the latest instance, the platform has been severely affected by government rules before. (RELATED: China Battles For Internet Hegemony After America Gives Up Control)
The Chinese government allegedly cracked down on informal discussions of a political coup discovered on Weibo, and its main domestic competitor, by banning the comment features on the respective services.
“It is a misuse of words if you say ‘content censorship.’ But no censorship does not mean there is no management,” Lu Wei, chief of the State Internet Information Office, claimed last year.
“As for who comes to my home, I have to choose to make sure those who come are friends,” he added.
Facebook apologized at the end of May for censoring content that paid tribute to the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. Users criticized the tech company for capitulating to China’s supposed demands, but Facebook said it “incorrectly” disapproved the commemorative profile picture frame.
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