Foursquare banned in China over Tiananmen Square check-ins
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Chinese paramilitary police officers march across Tiananmen Square in Beijing on the 21st anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. Security forces were on high alert in China, where discussion of the massacre is largely taboo. Credit: Hwee Young / EPA.
In China, the Tiananmen Square massacre is a sensitive subject. That’s why the country is quick to censor Web content that’s even slightly critical of the event. That was certainly still the case Friday, the 21st anniversary of the event, when China blocked that location-based social network Foursquare after users started ‘checking in’ at Tiananmen Square on the service.
Under Foursquare’s process of checking in, users can tell followers where, physically, they are. The information can be syndicated to Facebook or Twitter. People who are checked in at the same location can engage in conversation.
According to a report in Techblog86, a China-based site that first broke the news of China’s decision to block Foursquare, people who checked in to Tiananmen Square were leaving ‘sensitive comments’ on the page for others to see. Those comments were shared with friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter. China, objecting to such comments, decided to block the service in an attempt to quell the protest.
China has yet to confirm that it has in fact blocked Foursquare. The social network did not immediately respond to request for comment.
China’s actions don’t come as a surprise. The country has a long track record of blocking social networks and websites for fear of users sharing thoughts that might be construed as anti-government.
-- Don Reisinger