What Does China Censor Online?

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

What does China censor online? The Great Firewall Of China
The Great Firewall Of China.

Oops. I guess we can add a certain beautiful infographics website to that ban list.

Data here.

Update 1: There’s a more detailed, annotated version on The Guardian Datablog.


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Show Comments ( )

  • http://sebastianlaube.de Sebastian

    great arrangement und good idea!
    but it’s hard to read. could you rise the contrast and provide a download in higher resolution?

  • http://woganmay.com Wogan

    Ooh, nice – very impressive. Really sad that they block like half the good stuff online…

    ~ Wogan

  • http://initiative.dreamhosters.com/ est

    While it’s beautiful, but the data is extremely inaccurate. Example 163.com is a famous portal Chinese site, the rest of the data are either old or obsolete

  • Wrysmile

    Where’s the porn

    • david

      I edited out the pr0n sites.

  • http://www.1buch.com Michael

    is that really correct? Why block apple.com, ibm.com?

  • anthony damico

    this was done by hand, right? there’s no algorithm that can automate this in any way?

  • Craig

    Is there a full list of these? Blocked keywords give a basic overview of what matters to the Chinese government and give a great 101 for the uninformed – like why is Shanwei there? Three seconds of research gives the answer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dongzhou_protests_of_2005

  • Mary

    This is great–as someone who is only superficially aware of Chinese censorship, I now have a number of topics I can google and read up on. I’ll skip Playboy, unless they’ve been in the forefront of exposing Chinese censorship and I’ve missed it?

  • http://www.baymard.com/blog Jamie, Baymard Institute


    So you censored them?

    (I would’ve done that too, but there’s a certain irony to it nonetheless..)

    [Nice! You got me - David]

  • anon

    lol, they banned 4chan.

  • spyra

    Very interesting, and great representation. Many of these seem so pedestrian.

    I’d be curious to see what kind of info the US bans. I’m sure there’s tons out there, but (being in the US,) it’d be hard to find out.

  • http://www.jennyrice.com Jen

    I did this project last year but it’s very relevant now. It was about Yahoo, MSN and Google and their compliance with the internet censorship rules in China.

  • Shanghaied

    Seconding what est said. While the visualisation is beautiful, the actual information leaves much to be desired, which kind of ruins it for me. I looked briefly through the Excel document containing the data, and found several errors (mostly based on my personal experience – I’ve spent about a month each year in China for the last 12 years, and have only accessed the internet in cafes.):

    - sina.com, 163.com and sohu.com are popular Chinese portals, in China, and are not blocked.

    - aftonbladet.se, expressen.se, svd.se, dn.se, and svt.se are popular Swedish news sources (ok, the first two are tabloids). Being Swedish, these are probably the sites which I have accessed the most while in China, and to the best of my knowledge they have never been blocked, or at least not in the last six or seven years.

    - somethingawful.com, for better or worse, has not been blocked at least since 2005.

    Otherwise very well done.

    [Brilliant. Thanks for the info. It's difficult to get more recent info. I'll update the image - David]

  • Anon

    Same feedback as Shanghaied, a lot of sites listed are not actually blocked. For example, the above-mentioned 4chan.org, as well as slashdot, and others. Curious as to how english.gov.cn got on the list as well. A good source of real-time reports on blocked sites is Herdict.

  • a shanghai guy

    some of the websites are not blocked here, esp. 163.com

    but youtube facebook twitter are surely blocked.

  • http://www.notii.com zhang

    I am a chinese living in Beijing, and I hate the censor!
    But this picture is misleading.
    163.com/apple.com ….. many and many are not blocked, they are my daily visiting site. Why are they in the list?
    even cnn.com, a foreign website, is available freely.
    So, do not let the mistake hurt the fact.
    And finally, Fuck the GFW.

  • bb

    FAIL….i’m sitting in China right now, and have managed to just now open around 80% of the sites I’ve attempted, listed on this graphic. Perhaps in the last decade each of these has had their moments of blockage, ranging from days to years in duration, but its presentation here seems misleading. Amazon, BBC, Ebay, PerezHilton, Wikipedia, Sohu, 163, yahoo, 4chan, whitehouse, msn, msnbc, asahi, nintendo, skype….None of these are currently blocked.

    [Thanks for the info. Censored sites often show but have contentious pages missing.

    I'm not sure how it works for Skype? Anyone?


  • http://56minus1.com 小杜

    Hmm, the blocklist that isn’t?
    (As noted above by multiple others…)

    Fully blocked:

    Marginally blocked (spurious tcp connection resets sent)
    Google Images > 2nd page of results

  • http://www.aaronmfisher.com Aaron

    Can I get a larger, 1680×1050, version of this for my computer background?? :)

  • MAC

    Besides the obvious nonsense of many of the websites, some of the keywords seem like wild guesses to me. The idea that the word “democracy” is off-limits in China is a myth, the CCP talks about it all the time- just with their own definition. And “yellow peril,” are you kidding me- every good Chinese needs to know how awful foreigners have been to them so they can hate them forever, there’s no reason to censor that.

  • Ben M

    I love the visual but echo what others have said about the data being inaccurate. I have lived in China for the past six years and can tell you that many of the sites you mentioned can be accessed here. Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are a few of the big ones that are currently blocked.

  • K

    Been in China… the internet is basically empty there, except for the local websites perhaps. I even tried Tor, before getting bored with the configuration…

  • http://anonymitaet-im-inter.net/wiki/zensur Jens Kubieziel

    Maybe it is a good idea to use the leaked list of forbidden words from China Digital Times. I have some information on my China-censorship page, but only in german language …

  • Xavier

    I am in China. Right now, aside from what 小杜 posted, wikipedia images are not loading for me, as well as half of the photos in flickr.

  • http://feiss.be Diego

    Ironically, i’ve sent this link to a cousin of mine who is working in Shanghai, and he said he can read it, THIS BLOG seems to be censored in China too!!! :D

  • PeterParker

    I like to go to various chinese search engines and look for random things like
    “chinese president sucks panda balls”

  • Dave Thompson

    There’s a good side to this, the Chinese will not be able to buy or download Guns ‘n’ Roses latest album “Chinese Democracy”

  • buzzo

    sad this is a list and therefore one cannot really sort out the list.

    also it is VERY misleading in that the gray are actually not blocked sites. !!

  • mr. v

    Ok, I have to say that this picture is extremely inaccurate. Secondly it is a lazy one as it contains so few words that it starts right after half – way through repeating the same sites. At no point 163.com has been blocked. Nor the swedish sites in the list. Nor espn.com nor and nor and so on. Worthless, cute idea, but worthless.

  • David

    Half of those are not true – I can see quite a few websites in there that I’ve not had any trouble accessing when I was in China.

    [That's censorship working. Individual pages or entire sections of sites are often blocked - David]

  • facepalm

    for f**k’s sake learn to read people:
    “censored websites are either inaccessible or have contentious pages blocked”

  • samuel welsh

    there afraid of demoracy

  • lies

    this is not correct
    in fact this is almost pure fantasy, especially Wikipedia which even have Chinese articles
    the most ridiculous one is http://www.163.com/
    it’s a Chinese news website and many Chinese people have an email finishing by @163.com

  • someguy

    Although some facts are wrong (such as the 163.com thing) the last time this page was updated was 2009. so unless I’m a year off, right now it’s 2010. so some of these pages like wikipedia, amazon, eBay and addicting games, in fact loads have now been uncensored or never been blocked in the first place.
    The reason pages have been blocked is because several sites contain images and information of protests to do with relationships between Tibet and China (Tibet wants to be freed from China) and other such protests. It is to help prevent outrages, riots and violent protests happening in and out of China, so that China can deal with it’s own problems without having to deal with the rest of the world.
    I myself believe that blocking sites like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook isn’t wrong or right, although Facebook and Twitter are sources of social life and connecting with friends, and YouTube is a well-known source of entertainment. I understand that blocking a lot of these sites can prevent violence and maintain peace, and without having many problems. If I put myself into the Governments position, I would do the same thing. Blocking specific videos of Tibetan captives being beaten by Chinese police are hard to block off YouTube, as 24 HOURS of video are uploaded every minute. And the same goes with trying to block pages and groups off Facebook and tweets off Twitter.
    So if you’ve ever wondered why these pages have been censored, the reasons above are the answer. (A 13 year old nerd just wrote this and that’s why it says so much about facebook and Twitter)

  • http://google.com Ammie Crocitto

    loving your post

  • http://www.onlinespecialists.com.au SEO Brisbane

    Impressive post. by doing china censor , its little bit sad for Chinese people.

  • Jules Ocean

    Why would gov.cn be censored? Isn’t that the country’s official government site for their citizens to access and learn?

  • SEO

    aber wieso genau werden seiten wie apple.com geblockt? es muss doch irgendwas durchs internet noch zugänglich sein…heißt das, sobald ich in china mit meinem server bin, kann ich so gut wie nichts mehr machen?