How not to win friends on China’s internet
23 Dec 10

One of the main men behind China’s Great Firewall recently got a taste of his own medicine.

Fang Binxing, credited with building a system which is used to block websites in China, shut down his microblog earlier this week after Chinese netizens, angry at censorship, bombarded his newly-opened microblogging account with angry comments.

Fang, the president of Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, reportedly asked Sina, the owner of the very popular twitter-like service weibo, to delete his blog, after several hours of apparently trying to delete the flood of comments as they poured in.

China Digital Times has reproduced some of the more colourful comments left on Fang’s weibo including: “f–-k you 404 times” [ a reference to the ‘404 error’ message which occasionally appears when pages are blocked]; a suggestion that if Fang is unhappy with the comments he could simply block weibo itself now; and “a Twitter user is here to laugh at Eunuch Fang’s Great Firewall.”

The Wall Street Journal said people were alerted to Fang’s weibo account when the 50-year-old professor sent a message to a famous TV anchor Jing Yidan: “Hi, I’m on Weibo now, although I don’t dare be as outspoken as you all, haha.”

Global Times, a local English-language paper, carried the story, but was careful to balance it with comments that cited unnamed sources as saying the censorship was necessary to protect national security.