Facebook (China)

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Date: 2009 to Present

Region: Asia

Subject: Social, Political

Medium: Internet, Social Media, Facebook


Artist: Facebook

Confronting Bodies: The Central Government of the People's Republic of China

Dates of Action: July 7, 2009 - Present

Location: China

Description of Artwork: The social networking website was launched in 2004 and is the biggest social networking website online. It has more than 800 million users and users use it to send messages, make groups, create events, upload pictures, make friends, and spread ideas. The website was created by Mark and several other Harvard students and originally intended for the use of Harvard students only. Users today are a variety of ages. The site's terms of service mandates 13 years old and older-however, according to ConsumersReports.org on May 2011, there are 7.5 million children under 13 years old with accounts. Many groups and events created on Facebook are used to transfer ideas, send information and messages, and organize protests.

The Incident: After the violent protests in Urumqi, the capital of China's Xinjiang province where deadly clashes between rioters and police, there were 140 dead and 800 wounded. What originally was a peaceful protest quickly turned extremely ugly. The Muslim minority were the people protesting and when the anti-riot troops and police tried to disperse them, the protestors retaliated. They threw rocks and vegetables at the authority. The police resorted to tear gassing, batons, and fire hoses to make them leave. In an attempt to cover-up the riot on the internet and belief that Xinjiang independence activists were using Facebook for communications and organization, the Communist government has mandated that Facebook, Twitter, unapproved search engines be inaccessible from Chinese citizens. The earlier two weeks, Youtube and any type of Google communication tools and most Google services were also barred from access. Almost all foreign websites are banned from access in China. [1]

Results of Incident: Facebook in mainland China is continually blocked. It can be assessed from a small number of proxy sites. It can be accessed in Hong Kong though.

Source: Washington Post: China Blocks Access To Twitter, Facebook After Riots [2]