‘Tank Man’ Googled in China as Hackers Bypass Censors

China’s Internet users can access censored content, including references to the Tiananmen Square crackdown, after online activists created a website duplicating Google Inc.’s restricted portal.

Greatfire.org, a group opposed to Internet censorship in China, said it created the mirror website to enable searches for sensitive content, and the number of visitors yesterday exceeded 100,000. Users in Beijing and Shanghai were able to see text and image results for “Tank Man,” the iconic protester at Tiananmen Square in 1989, that usually are prohibited in China.

Google features including search, Gmail and translation were blocked in China a week before the 25th anniversary of the protest crackdown earlier this month, and many users are still unable to access services, according to Greatfire. The mirror website Sinaapp.co is hosted by Amazon.com Inc.’s cloud services.

“An unbelievable number of people are using it right now,” Charlie Smith, who uses a pseudonym for fear of reprisals by Chinese authorities, said in a message. “The culmination of general frustration from Chinese netizens who rely on Google services has helped the spike in our traffic.”

Greatfire isn’t working with Google, Smith said. Taj Meadows, a spokesman for Google, declined to comment.

The mirror website encourages people to repost links to the site on Weibo Corp., China’s most popular microblogging site, and Tencent Holding Ltd.’s WeChat, an instant-messaging application with nearly 400 million active users. Weibo subsequently blocked search terms for the Web address.

Greatfire.org gives people a way around censors by creating duplicates of banned websites. The three individuals behind Greatfire have kept their identities hidden from users, their advisory board of three open-Internet advocates, and even each other.

Greatfire was created to help fight China’s so-called Great Firewall, a digital barrier censoring what citizens in the most populous nation can see on the Internet.

— With assistance by Lulu Chen, and Edmond Lococo

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