Feeds

Chinese Twitter shuttered during murder trial

Wife of party official 'plied Brit with booze and poison' after deal went south

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

One of China’s largest Twitter-like platforms, Sina Weibo, suffered widespread problems on Thursday afternoon leaving users unable to post or comment on the site just as the high profile murder trial of Gu Kailai, wife of ousted Politburo member Bo Xilai, kicked off.

Users across the platform complained that they couldn’t post, comment or even re-post messages for about an hour. Sina managed to post a message to its official account on the platform at the time, however, apologising and claiming the site was undergoing emergency repair.

Some took to Twitter to explain what was going on. User @MissXQ posted the following: “Comment and repost function suspended for abt an hour on Sina Weibo.”

Meanwhile, @GreatFireChina, which tests blocked URLs within the Great Firewall tweeted: "No one can post anything on weibo now as the input space just disappeared FYI:Gu Kailai murder trial begins."

Although other platforms appear to have been unaffected by any problems, the timing of Sina’s outage has led to speculation that it may have been part of a wider attempt to silence discussion of the murder trial taking place at the time.

The event is seen as highly sensitive to the Communist Party elite, given that Gu’s husband Bo until recently occupied one of the most senior positions in the Party until he was forced out after allegations of corruption and even rumours of an attempted coup.

Following those rumours, both Sina and Tencent were handed out unspecified punishments by the government and forced to disable the comment function on their weibo platforms for several days while they purged them of the supposedly erroneous messages.

Given the murky nature of censorship in the People’s Republic, it’s impossible to tell which service outages are genuine and which have been mandated by government to quell debate on a sensitive topic, but it’s widely known that the web firms themselves have to practice self-censorship in these situations or risk the ire of the regulators.

True to form, discussion of the Gu case has been heavily censored inside China, with the major web platforms blocking posts containing keywords related to the trial such as the names of those involved, although some have reportedly circumvented filters by referring to Gu simply as ‘G’.

The trial in any case was over in a matter of hours, with Gu apparently not contesting charges that she murdered British businessman Neil Heywood with poison while he was drunk.

It's believed the guilty plea itself was forced as part of an attempt to limit foreign media coverage of the trial which would reflect badly on the Party and China itself.

Sina could not immediately be reached for comment. ®

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
BlackBerry: Toss the server, mate... BES is in the CLOUD now
BlackBerry Enterprise Services takes aim at SMEs - but there's a catch
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.