BOSTON — When Shanghai blogger Isaac Mao tried to watch a YouTube clip of Chinese police beating Tibetans, all he got was an error message.
Mao thought the error — just after the one-year anniversary of a crackdown on Tibetan protesters in China — was too suspicious to be coincidental, so he reported it on a new Harvard-based Web site that tracks online censorship.
Meanwhile, more than 100 other people in China did the same thing. The spike in reports on Herdict.org in March pointed to government interference rather than a run-of-the-mill technical glitch, even before Google Inc. confirmed China was blocking its YouTube video-sharing site.
"We saw reports coming in as soon as the blocks were happening and certainly before any of the media were reporting it," Herdict founder Jonathan Zittrain said of the months-long YouTube blackout that coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in June and recent ethnic riots in the Xinjiang province.
Herdict users report their Web site problems anonymously — numeric Internet addresses are recorded but only general location is displayed — so people can post more freely, encouraging reports about sensitive topics like HIV and AIDS-related sites, and from people in countries with possible government repercussions.
Web Site Tracks World Online Censorship Reports – Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News – FOXNews.com
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