12 May 2007

First off, it looks like my guess that MySpace.com is blocked in China is right. At least, Shanghaiist and their commenters are seeing it too. It’s suspicious that MySpace.com would be blocked soon after the launch of MySpace.cn. Dot-com has been available, more or less, for a while, and a fair number of savvy Chinese users created accounts at MySpace.com, such as punk bands. Now, right after the launch of MySpace.cn, they’re all forced to migrate over to .cn - a sudden leap, assuming they keep using MySpace, in registration and pageviews. Otherwise, the government said “Right, so let’s narrow this channel a bit”.

That’s not the only narrowing though. I’ve been playing around with some verboten words on MySpace.cn for a while. Some terms, particularly in Chinese, get blocked by the GFW presumably at the router level - before they ever reach MySpace.cn. Unlike Google.cn, though, the search results look the same (so far) if that doesn’t happen. But I’ve been encountering what is beginning to look suspiciously like censorship: The “Page Under Going Maintenance” sign.

The “Undergoing Maintenance” sign appears when you open a profile that is, well, undergoing maintenance. You see it in MySpace.com sometimes, it’s normal enough. Some pages that contain verboten topics open just fine, others have consistently been other maintenance. One thing about MySpace.cn, though, is that it completely duplicates accounts across international MySpace. In other words, if you take a profile link, say:

http://profile.myspace.cn/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid;=125043500

and change it to:

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid;=125043500

You’re looking at the same persons page, just that the menu bar and template change languages. The example above is a page with alot of censorship no-nos in it. The .com version opens fine (with proxy in China, w/o in most other nations). The .cn version gives you “This page is undergoing maintenance. If this is inconvenient, we’re very sorry!”

Which wouldn’t mean much except it seems to happen to a fair number of verboten pages. Not all, but many. It’s hard to test them all from China since I now have to proxy the .com pages and it’s slow as molasses sometimes. So here’s a list of some “maintenanced” pages that I haven’t checked in MySpace.com:

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=135332659
http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid;=135332659
http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=122628624
http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID;=17397486
http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=170257091

On the other hand, there’s plenty of other things that get through. But the maintenance pages seem worth keeping an eye on…



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