Friday, May 27, 2016

All of Tumblr blocked in China because of a 29s porn

What happened?

Tumblr is officially blocked in China beginning yesterday, joining the long block list of similar services such as wordpress, blogspot, etc.  Blogger and Google sites has been blocked since 2009 and wordpress joined them in 2011. Almost all foreign web services that involves user generated content have been blocked in China, including Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram. GFW clearly has noticed political content on Tumblr years ago but somehow decided not to block all of Tumblr till now.  According to Alexa, Tumblr is ranked 153 in China, rather well for a foreign website.

I'm not shocked at all that Tumblr is finally blocked. In fact, the opposite is true, that I'm very shocked that Tumblr is not blocked till now. Many individual blogs on Tumblr has long been blocked for years. fqrouter.tumblr.com, tumblr of famous circumvention tool fqrouter has been blocked since 2013; fubaichina.tumblr.com, or Corruption China, has been blocked since 2014.

Reason behind the block

Tumblr is probably blocked because of 陆家嘴不雅视频. It refers to a 29s porn video spreading like crazy on the Chinese social network and was later reported by major media and newspapers. The video was deleted by censorers on Chinese social network. But the original video comes from stalkeryan{.}tumblr{.}com (NSFW) and the tumblr supposedly hosted the full version of this video and many other videos like it. The blogposts on tumblr has been deleted.  But the video is still available if accessed directly.  vt{.}tumblr{.}com/tumblr_o40da56RLU1v5eoup_480{.}mp4 (NSFW)

This is the first time a major website is blocked for non-political reasons.

Technical details

Tumblr is blocked by 
1) connection reset based on blacklist. ".tumblr.com" is blacklisted and any URL containing such word will trigger the blocking by GFW. 
2) DNS poisoning based on blacklist ".tumblr.com" and exact match of "tumblr.com". Any subdomain of tumblr such as "randomstuff234123.tumblr.com" will trigger GFW to inject fake DNS response. 

Those are the most severe methods of blocking. GFW could have chose to block the specific subdomain of the offending tumblr like before, but GFW probably think enough is enough and decided to block all of it. 






Thursday, May 19, 2016

You should never use Sogou English

Sogou in China just launched two products in collaboration with Bing. One is Sogou English and the other is Sogou Scholar.

Either products are crappy quality at best. 

The Sogou English search is extremely incompetent

 Using Sogou English and searching for Android Studio, we only see 5 results returned by Sogou. At the end of the page, it states that the search technology is provided by Bing and Sogou. 

In comparison, a search for Android Studio on Bing or Google returns 13 million search results. It's unfathomable that how such an incompetent product can be launched. 

The Sogou English search is redundant to Bing

Bing is almost the only foreign search engine that is accessible in China. There is just no reason for users to choose a much inferior product when the original product is easily accessible. 

The censorship of Sogou English is much overdone even by the Chinese standards

Searching Tiananmen on Sogou English returns no results at all because of Tiananmen square incident of 1989. Such a broad search censorship is unseen except in the most exceptional circumstances even in China. 


In comparison, when searching tiananmen on Baidu, the No.1 search engine of China,  general information about tiananmen is returned while information about the protest is censored. Same goes for Bing in China. This means that Sogou voluntarily goes beyond the mandate of censorship and even prevent its users of accessing much generic non-political information. 






Thursday, May 12, 2016

Apkpure blocked in China

Apkpure.com is a website that mirrors apps from Google Play and offers downloads on the site directly. It is ranked 4.7K globally and 7.6K in China. It was blocked in China today.

Google Play has long been blocked in China and domestic App Stores are under strict censorship. Consequently,  some Chinese users utilize mirrors like apkpure to download apps.

The blocking method is DNS poisoning of *apkpure.com, which means that any domains ending with apkpure.com is blocked, such as random2314apkpure.com will be blocked. In addition, GFW also used connection reset by blacklisting keyword "apkpure.com", any URL that contains such word is blocked. This kind of blocking is extremely severe.

This blocking is totally expected considering the on-going crackdowns on App markets.