China’s Great Firewall is widely reviled (and with good reason), but how it actually works isn’t well understood. This is something we have written about before, but the folks at BackgroundCheck.org have kindly put together an infographic that illustrates how the Great Firewall works visually.
I have to say, I’m not a big fan of the first half of this infographic, which is a little misleading. For instance, the Great Firewall exists just as much to block illegal content like gun sales websites as it does to block politically sensitive content. Moreover, the infographic implies that the Great Firewall blocks things like microblog posts, which it actually doesn’t — the vast majority of the time, objectionable posts are deleted by the content teams at the company that runs the microblogging service.
That said, the second half of the infographic — especially the part where it details visually how the Great Firewall works on a technical level — is quite helpful and definitely worth taking a gander at. If you’re wondering why sometimes you get a “connection reset” error and other times you get a “site not found” error in China, for example, this infographic will answer your questions: