C. Custer
C. Custer
2:00 pm on Feb 28, 2013

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:

(See also: Here’s a list of websites blocked in China)

Like infographics? We’ve got plenty more where this came from.

(via BackgroundCheck.org)

  • http://www.cdnetworks.com William V.

    Good overview on how the great fire wall works and its impact on internet users in China. I totally agree that it can provide a little more details on the types of sites it blocks… it’s not purely used for censoring politically sensitive materials, but is also used to block out illegal content (e.g. pornography, firearms etc..)

  • Lestertee

    Isn’t this same methods used by US government to monitor its own citizens? You try search for bomb making or try to join a terrorist web site then tell me if you get don’t get a knock on your door from some government agency.

  • Skepticist

    I’ve actually noticed wikipedia has been less blocked recently. ‘China’ works, but even the page on tiananmen protest fully loads now, with VPN off. Wondered if its policy or someone having flipped a switch they should have left alone

  • http://www.foodragon.com/blog/ RanE

    Great article and very useful.

    I think it’s worth mentioning the source of much of the web traffic in China is actually mobile devices (significantly higher than most countries in the developed world) and the firewall and censorship also target that. For instance some apps are not available on the Chinese app store and many of the android devices bought in China aren’t pre-installed with Google Play.

  • stentor

    re: Lestertee

    Of course, moron, bombmaking is not the exact equivalent of posting disagreeable opinions on a blog.

  • Carl

    The most interesting statement is at the bottom – users that run into the filters “may be reported to the authorities”? How does that work, and where does that information come from?

  • nochina

    China should stop information control, and the global community is pressure in China, or China which you should kick says to intervention in domestic affairs and the other countries, but China should become free to do democratization first

  • http://kcna.co.jp greg rhame

    hey, if other countries were bad mouthing the usa, the u.s regime would not only block those websites, but hack those websites, and take them down permanently. then after that, the u.s regime would bomb whatever country is bad mouthing usa, and or slap sanctions on them, which would result in millions of deaths. momar gadafi made a great speech at the u.n criticising the u.s regime, and next thing you know, Libya got invaded. i still think China is doing the more graceful thing. you got to have real tolerance to ignore u.s. propaganda

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