Recent reports indicate China and three other states continue to block Facebook, most likely in an attempt to control the dissemination of social unrest. Facebook has become the most widely used social media tool across the globe. In 2010, protesters in the Middle East used Facebook to launch the Arab Spring, which led to major uprisings in six countries that eventually ousted the leadership of several of the governments. However, China refuses to acknowledge that they block Facebook or even admit Internet censorship; but the public fallout with Google in 2010, and the subsequent censorship in 2012 proves otherwise.
Experts say that China is guilty of blocking numerous social media sites, including Twitter, Facebook, Skype and YouTube, with censorship increasing during the recent leadership transition and National Party Congress. China also filters search results for numerous words the Communist Party believes may incite a public uprising or protest against the government. Although sensitive words and topics change constantly, certain words such as Tiananmen Square, Falun Gong and Taiwan are always banned. In order to voice their opinions, users are forced to use code words to avoid the censors. During the 18th National Party Congress, such words as "national chairman" were banned, leading Internet warriors to find alternative words to refer to the leadership transition.
Currently, nearly 600 million people in China have access to the Internet. However, as more people come online, the government is finding new ways to censor information available on the Internet including mandatory computer software programs that filter search engine results. The Chinese government is not alone in preventing users from accessing sensitive information. In order to access the Chinese market, many western companies have succumbed to pressures by the Communist Party to censor information. Microsoft, Google and Yahoo all filter search engine results, while Apple, Inc. prohibits the downloading of the "Dalai Lama" application by users in China.
Allowing a free and open Internet would give people in China an opportunity to learn more about their oppression, which could threaten the power of the Chinese Communist Party. Therefore, China is not likely to relax its censorship of the Internet anytime soon.