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Where Did China's Web Traffic Really Go?

An internet cafe in Shanghai
An internet cafe in ShanghaiPhotograph by Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

An Internet outage in China that briefly knocked most of the country offline this week has sparked a hunt for answers. The sleuthing has even led to the American heartland, generating headlines that said most of China’s Web traffic ended up at a house in Cheyenne, Wyo. Were it only that simple. In five questions, we try to clear the air.

What are the basics?
For more than an hour on Jan. 21, Web traffic in China was disrupted, with much of it directed to a single Internet address that, to users, was a dead end. That address was located in the U.S., according to the official Xinhua news agency.