‘Berlin Twitter Wall’ Blocked in China

November 4, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

A screenshot of the website showing 'tweets' about the Berlin Wall. Before the site was blocked in China, most were in Chinese. (berlintwitterwall.com)
A screenshot of the website showing 'tweets' about the Berlin Wall. Before the site was blocked in China, most were in Chinese. (berlintwitterwall.com)
A virtual wall created for Twitter users to express their thoughts and hopes on the 20 year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall has been blocked in China.

The “Berlin Twitter Wall,” as it’s called, is an initiative of KulturProjekte Berli, a not-for-profit organization that promotes networking and mediation of art and culture.

Launched on Oct. 20, according to the press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the virtual wall was blocked by Chinese authorities after almost 2,000 Chinese Internet users left Twitter messages there. The wall currently has just over 4,000 tweets posted on it, mostly in Chinese.

MSNBC quoted two of the tweeters: One mimicked Ronald Reagan’s famous words to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev—“Mr. Hu Jintao, tear down the Great Firewall!” Another wrote, “Mr. Obama, please ask Mr. Hu to tear down the GFW and insure that Chinese people can use the Internet freely.”

CNS reported another posting: “Freedom leads the Internet and leads the people. The Chinese should [tear] down this wall that blocks us from the world as soon as possible.”

“Chinese Internet users must not be prevented from accessing the Berlin Twitter Wall,” said Reporters Without Borders in a statement released Tuesday morning.  “Initiatives like these are important platforms for the promotion of freedom of speech as well as for critical voices and protest.”

RSF added that many foreign news outlets and social-networking sites remain inaccessible to Chinese users.

Twitter account holders can post comments that appear automatically on the berlintwitterwall.com site by using the hashtag #fotw (fall of the wall).

The site exhorted users to “share your thoughts on the Fall of the Berlin wall now or let us know which walls still have to come down to make our world a better place!” Chinese on twitter drew comparisons between the Berlin Wall and the Great Firewall of China (GFW), the name given to the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s program of pervasive Internet censorship.

“Overturning the GFW is an urgent priority, communism is just a red terror that deceives people,” one user wrote.

“The Berlin Wall has a Chinese version. German friends have given us a rallying point to overturn the GFW!” a writer identified as cx0878 wrote.

“Why is getting on the net now to say true words so hard?” another user said, calling themselves guozili.

The Golden Shield Project, often called the Great Firewall of China, is a censorship and surveillance project operated by China’s Ministry of Public Security. It is intended to increase up the Chinese Communist Party’s control of the Internet in China. It includes tens of thousands of personnel who monitor and delete content deemed subversive, as well as an elaborate system for making Web sites inaccessible.