Access to Instagram in mainland China appears to have been blocked by the country’s authorities as pro-democracy demonstrations continue in Hong Kong.
With many services such as Twitter and YouTube already blocked in China, protesters started posting photos and videos to the Facebook-owned media-sharing service instead. Accompanied by the hashtag OccupyCentral, images showed huge crowds on the streets of the Central business district, with demonstrations turning ugly over the weekend as Hong Kong police began using tear gas against protestors.
According to Reuters, the Chinese authorities also started blocking the OccupyCentral hashtag on Sunday on Weibo, the country’s hugely popular Twitter-like service.
Numerous reports Sunday suggested Instagram had been blocked across the country – the website Blocked in China is also listing the site as out of action for those in mainland China.
It’s not known if the restriction will be lifted once the political unrest in Hong Kong ends, or if the ban will stay in place for a much longer period of time.
China’s Communist Party is well known to closely monitor both traditional and new media, and the blocking of online services is one of several tactics used to prevent the spread of content that it believes could serve to undermine its authority.
The government’s move against Instagram doesn’t prevent anyone in Hong Kong from posting photos and videos, leaving those in other countries around the world free to view the content.
The demonstrations started in Hong Kong last week as citizens protested against the Chinese government’s plans to have more say over how the special administrative region is governed.
The region was handed back to China in 1997 after more than 150 years of British rule, with the country’s Communist Party promising a “one country, two systems” arrangement that’s supposed to give Hong Kong residents greater freedoms than their mainland counterparts.