Chinese Twitter-like service Fanfou has been offline since July of last year after ethnic violence in China caused the death of 200 people in the Xinjiang region. The site was taken down as part of the Chinese government’s communications clampdown. Other affected sites have since reopened, but Fanfou has remained offline, causing concern among its many users.
Still, Chinese users of Twitter have since posted hundreds of messages about Fanfou, with some speculating that the service will not return.
“It looks like Fanfou really is dead stiff,” wrote a user named AmanKuang.
“Fanfou really doesn’t plan to live on,” wrote another, named amystarrynight.
Chinese authorities censor Internet content through various means, including obliging Web site owners to self-censor. The owners can be punished if they do not promptly erase sensitive content, including some political content such as talk of elite government corruption, posted by users on message boards or blogs.
Chinese authorities targeted social-networking Web sites after the rioting last year because they were allegedly used to help plan the violence. After the rioting started, some users on microblog sites including Fanfou posted messages about conditions in the region.
Twitter, along with Facebook, was also blocked in China after the riots, but some Chinese users still access the service with a circumvention tool like a virtual private network (VPN).