China’s reportedly blocked Instagram due to Hong Kong protests

What do we want? #democracy! When do we want it? [Censored]. Yep, it looks like everyone’s favourite photo-sharing service is now blocked in China. Boo.

As filled with other people’s shoes, food, and engagement rings as Instagram can be, it’s also a great way for people to record what’s happening, especially when huge global events are taking place. Which, of course, is exactly why the Chinese government isn’t so keen on the idea. They don’t want citizens on the mainland to know the full extent of the pro-democracy protests that have erupted in Hong Kong over the last few days. Today, thousands of people filled the streets across the city, bringing traffic to a standstill and causing schools and banks to close.

Previous demonstrations in the city state had always had police approval, but this one kicked off sooner than planned after students invaded the police-guarded government compound, and its scale has been unprecedented. The protests were sparked by Beijing’s annoucement that rather than letting voters choose for themselves, there will be tight controls on who is allowed to stand in Hong Kong’s chief executive elections in 2017. Both the current Hong Kong chief executive CY Leung and the Chinese government said that the protests won’t change these plans, and police have made dozens of arrests and set off tear gas in order to disperse the crowds, who’ve protected themselves with umbrellas.

That makes a compelling image, but it seems that few people in China will see it, at least not for the foreseeable future. After censoring TV images, the government cracked down on Instagram, according to The New York Times (Twitter and Facebook are already blocked). The site Blocked in China confirms that Instagram’s unavailable in China’s biggest cities, meaning it’s unlikely to be accessible anywhere in the country.

Image by 海彥 via Wikimedia Commons.

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Diane Shipley

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