News / Asia

In Shanghai, US Consulate's Microblog Disappears

Logo of Sina Corp's Chinese microblogging site,
Logo of Sina Corp's Chinese microblogging site, "Weibo," on a screen, Beijing, September 2011.
A social media account run by the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai has mysteriously disappeared from the Internet in China, prompting many to wonder if it is the work of government censors.

The Shanghai consulate's account on Sina Weibo, a popular Twitter-like microblog service owned by SINA Corporation, was known for its sometimes witty commentary, often on Chinese political and social issues.

But as of Friday, the consulate's account was still inaccessible, replaced by an error message that reads "temporarily unavailable" -- a message similar to those seen when accounts are deleted by government censors.

Consulate officials say they do not know why the account has been removed and that they are working to find out how the service can be restored.

But Jeremy Goldkorn, the editor of Danwei.com -- a website about Chinese media and Internet -- calls the incident "almost certainly" more than just a technical glitch.

"This is very common. Sina, sometimes at the request of governments, and sometimes on their own initiative to avoid getting in trouble with the government, shuts down accounts and deletes tweets [posts] -- they do all kinds of censorship," he said. "So almost certainly this is what happened."

It would not be the first dispute between American diplomats and the government of China, which employs a massive team of web censors to remove material deemed objectionable.

Last month, a senior Chinese environmental official slammed the U.S. Embassy in Beijing's Twitter account for regularly posting air quality readings that are much worse than the government's official figures.

According to Goldkorn, Beijing is likely even more displeased with posts that appear in the Chinese language on locally hosted services, such as Weibo. But he says he does not know of any instances of government censors completely shutting down a U.S. government-controlled account.

"They have deleted tweets from the U.S. government's Weibo accounts in the past, so in that sense it's not new," he said. "But I think this may be the first time that they have completely removed or disabled an account, on Weibo at least."

Popular Western social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter are blocked in China, forcing the country's estimated 500 million Internet users to more easily controlled versions, such as Sina Weibo.

Beijing defends its online censorship, dubbed the Great Firewall of China, by saying it is aimed at maintaining social stability, preventing the spread of false rumors, and blocking inappropriate material.

Analysts say they expect censors to work even harder to filter out controversial content in the coming months in an attempt to enforce calm as a once-in-a-decade leadership transition in the Communist Party draws closer.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
July 20, 2012 2:28 PM
Sometimes my friends and I were "deleted" from Facebook too. Maybe it's just a coincide, who knows! Btw, Chinese Gov't won't let ppl to use Facebook or twitter because ppl can talk whatever they want. If Chinese see this and get the idea, it will be horrific for Chinese Gov't! China and USA are different, so don't use American point of view to judge China.

by: Anonymous
July 17, 2012 10:23 PM
Thanks for China.Beat USA.

by: matt
July 16, 2012 2:23 AM
Thank goodness the Chinese government interferes with the local internet.
Can you imagine how awesome China would be with an open internet?
So thanks again to some dim witted party bosses for keeping its citizens in the dark.
In Response

by: Gordon
July 23, 2012 9:29 AM
you are so funny!

by: Anonymous
July 16, 2012 1:35 AM
china goverment always do this when they think some informations

need not let chinese people know.
In Response

by: CK from: VN
July 17, 2012 3:05 AM
US do the same when wikilick unveilled some info. that were considered not favor for the US. So don't blame other countries when they response with the same action.

by: Anonymous
July 14, 2012 3:39 AM
Why all my comments can not be passed the censoring of this Web site. I have writen hundreds of commments, but none of them can be posted in the site. A big satire!

by: georgefromChina from: China
July 13, 2012 10:03 PM
Sorry for this.but sometimes the government doesen't stand for its ppl.most of our Chinese are open-minded and hope to get connected with the rest of the world.
In Response

by: JohnnyWang from: Taiwan
July 15, 2012 10:41 PM
So, do you think all Chinese are idiots?
what do you mean to connect with the rest of world?
that's an insult of american!

by: joe from: usa
July 13, 2012 1:32 PM
Chinese are clueless thanks to their govt.
In Response

by: fu from: china
July 14, 2012 8:11 AM
as same as American.....thanks to your govt.
In Response

by: georgefromChina from: China
July 13, 2012 10:07 PM
eh,I don't want to argue about this,i just want to say,the definition of clueless is various.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More