New Version of GreatFire.org
We are very pleased to unveil a new version of GreatFire.org today. Here are some things we've been working on in an effort to improve the web site and to bring transparency to online censorship in China.
Real Time Testing
You can now test whether any URL is blocked or restricted in China in real time. Just enter any website in the main search field on the top of this page and click Test Now. Or, when browsing a report on a particular URL, you can request to have it retested immediately by clicking Test Now on its page. This is the first time that real-time monitoring of key words in China has ever been publicly available. Other web sites share information about key words which may have been blocked in the past but which are now unblocked (or vice versa). Our real-time service will allow visitors to the site to monitor blocked key words in relation to breaking news stories in China. Visitors will also gain insight into anomalies that sometimes occur with the Great Firewall including the ability to see if blocked sites like Facebook and Twitter happen to be open in China for short periods of time.
We now report blocks and restrictions as percentages over the last 30 days. For example, if a URL has been tested 10 times in the last 30 days, and as a result of those tests the connection was reset 5 times and the download speed was slower than 5 kbps 2 times, our report would state that the web site is 50% blocked (5 /10) and 20% otherwise restricted (2 / 10). This means that our reports will be more reliable by providing more information about how exactly these sites are being blocked or throttled. There are frequent glitches in the Great Firewall and the previous version of our website reported only on the latest status of a web site, which could give distorted impressions.
Types of Censorship
Rather than just reporting a URL as blocked, we now use algorithms to try to deduce the technical type of censorship that is occurring. Current categories are Connection Reset, DNS Poisoning, Redirected To China, Self-Censorship, Throttling and Timed Out. For any given URL, you can click on the days in the calendar to view details on how the URL was determined to be blocked or restricted. More info in our new FAQ.
Last but not least, we now also track Baidu Self-Censorship. We do this by checking for the existence of a self-censorship admission message shown on Baidu for certain sensitive keywords. Please try it out and let us know what you think on info at greatfire dot org or by commenting on this site. Historically, information which appeared about the Great Firewall has focused on what web sites are blocked to users in China, Frequently, this information focused on either popular web sites (like Facebook and Twitter) or on organizations which China has deemed to be detrimental to the people of China. For the first time, we are providing insight into what information is blocked on the biggest search engine in China. Internet users in China for the most part are aware of the fact that large web sites like Facebook are blocked. Our new feature now gives users in China a view on what Chinese keywords are being blocked on Baidu.
We have many more features to add, and you can help us in this process. Please add comments on any page with suggestions on what we can do better or problems we need to fix. Let's work together to bring transparency to online censorship in China.