The “front page of the internet” becomes latest site to fall behind the Great Firewall.
Reddit, the world’s most popular discussion site and the 10th most visited website in the world (according to Alexa), is now blocked in China, joining the likes of Google, Facebook, YouTube, and several Western media organizations (among others) as foreign websites inaccessible within the mainland.
Users within China noted they were having trouble loading the site — and the app — on Saturday, though it’s not clear exactly when the block occurred.
Here’s what Comparitech — which has a tool to test whether a site is blocked in China — currently shows for the domain reddit.com:
Fudan University professor Yan Feng wrote about Reddit being blocked on his personal Weibo in a post that has since been censored:
Reddit is blocked today. This is unbelievable. In my impression, there isn’t much Chinese content on Reddit, and not many people use Reddit in China. Those who use Reddit would definitely have the ability to go past the Great Firewall. Decisions like this make many people uncomfortable. There nothing positive to be gained from it.
The Independent reported in 2015 that Reddit was blocked in China, but users quickly disputed the claim, noting that the site was accessible from within the mainland. Periodic blockages of the site since then have proven to be only temporary. But Chinese censors seem to be aggressively blocking websites as of late — this website and What’s on Weibo both fell behind the Great Firewall within the last month and a half.
Reddit, known for its open forums for discussions, obviously hosts content that Chinese authorities would not want its citizens to see. But it’s unclear what exactly triggered the recent decision to block the entire site. Variations on the question “Why isn’t Reddit blocked in China” has been asked on the forum several times before, with popular answers more or less falling along the lines of “Nobody in China uses Reddit.”
There are about 1,730 Chinese posts mentioning Xi Jinping on Reddit, a topic that is off limits within the country. Posts about the Chinese leader are often deleted on Chinese social media. Most notably, censors seem to hate comparisons between Xi and Winnie the Pooh.
A Google search result for “Reddit+Xi Jinping” returns about 19,400 results.
The English-speaking subreddit r/China, which is relatively active, has about 72,800 subscribers. (Here’s a discussion from a year ago on the question “Why is reddit not banned in China?) A Reddit user posted “Chinese government just banned reddit” at around 2 am on Sunday, August 12, China time.
Here’s what the Reddit app currently looks like:
In 2017, Chinese top official Wang Huning emphasized the importance of cyberspace sovereignty at the World Internet Conference held in Wuzhen. Cyberspace sovereignty is addressed in the 2015 Chinese Cyberspace Security Law, which is a policy that Chinese officials use to justify its frequent and strictly enforced censorship of its own cyberspace, from deleting posts and content from domestic websites to blocking foreign-owned websites.
SupChina was blocked in late June:
We are blocked in China. pic.twitter.com/uQbOkejwOA
— SupChina (@supchinanews) July 6, 2018