China Blocks Micro-Messaging Site Plurk. Is Twitter Next?
by Erick Schonfeld on April 23, 2009
As micro-messaging spreads overseas, the threat of censorship looms in certain parts of the world. Yesterday Plurk, a micro-messaging service that competes with Twitter, discovered that it is being blocked in China. According to Plurk’s lead developer Amir Salihefendic, “We at Plurk still don’t know why we are banned and we did not get any warnings from the Chinese government or have been in contact with them.” But a quick test confirms that the site is not available in China.
Plurk is a micro-messaging site where each message appears on a timeline. It never really caught on in the wake of Twitter, but it does have a core group of loyal follower, and is showing some very early growth. Plurk seems to be hitting a chord in Asia though. It is like the Friendster of micro-messaging services in that regard. The top five countries where Plurk’s traffic comes from, according to Google Trends for Websites, are Indonesia, Taiwan, the Philippines, the U.S., and China, in that order. China is No. 5. Salihefendic says that Plurk has “tens of thousands” of active users inside China and “hundreds of thousands” of unique visitors, “so this is a big issue for us.”
So even if you have never heard of Plurk, it appears that the Chinese authorities have and they don’t like what they see. Is this an isolated incident, or is this what the Chinese government has in store for Twitter as well?