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Bye Bye Pinterest: China’s Creatives Cry as Site Is Blocked in the PRC

After Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, and Picasa, popular image-sharing Pinterest is now also blocked in China. Chinese netizens are angry and disappointed, while some are outright devastated.

Manya Koetse

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After Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, and Picasa, popular image-sharing Pinterest is now also blocked in China. Chinese netizens are angry and disappointed, while some are outright devastated.

“Pinterest is blocked, am I supposed to look for fashion pictures on Baidu now?! F*ck!”, one girl named Cherry wrote on Sina Weibo today. She is not the only one who is disgruntled to discover the site is no longer accessible from within the People’s Republic of China (PRC); since the popular image-sharing platform has been added to the list of blocked websites, many Chinese netizens have responded with anger and disappointment, while some are simply devastated.

“These days I suddenly can’t access Pinterest anymore, I feel like crying!”, one unhappy netizen said.

 

“A waterfall of tears now that Pinterest is blocked! Designers are crying in the toilet!”

 

Photo-sharing website Pinterest was launched in 2009 and became popular in mainland China in 2012, which was also around the time when Chinese clones, such as Huaban, Mogujie or Meilishuo, mushroomed in the PRC.

Greatfirewallofchina.org: Pinterest is blocked everywhere in mainland China.

The website allows users to “pin” images from the internet, categorize them on different boards and place and share them with their followers. The site is especially popular among people in creative industries, such as fashion, design, or photography.

“Why are designer websites now also blocked?! Why Why Why!!! All my image material is on Pinterest, aaaaah! Go f*ck yourself!!!”, one desperate commenter wrote on Weibo.

Others are also angered and unhappy with the site’s sudden disappearance: “This is so sad. All my images, all my boards, all my source material…”

One blogger wrote: “A waterfall of tears now that Pinterest is blocked! Designers are crying in the toilet!”

 

“Can someone please explain why Pinterest is shut off?”

 

Besides the anger, there is also confusion among Weibo users on the motivations behind the blocking, as Pinterest is mainly focused on fashion, food, home design, etc, and is not a platform known for any controversial or political issues: “Why is Pinterest shut off? All my images are there!”, one person said. “Why are good things like this shut down? Damn it!”

“Can someone please explain why Pinterest is shut off?”, user @Kerwin德芙 said. “I simply can’t understand why first Medium was blocked, and now Pinterest,” another person wrote. Story-sharing site Medium was blocked in China in 2016.

Judging from Weibo’s search suggestions, many people have entered the question “Why is Pinterest blocked?”; it was the number one suggestion. The number two search suggestion was “Pinterest won’t open” (see image below).

Most-searched results on Weibo for ‘Pinterest,’: “Why is Pinterest blocked?”

Chinese netizens first noticed that Pinterest was unavailable in mainland China on March 9, when a user of online message board Douban said that the platform had suddenly become inaccessible without warning.

Although Pinterest is mainly a design and fashion-focused platform, it also has users who use it for more political purposes. Historical photos are also widely shared on the site – also those of events such as the Tiananmen demonstrations, that are usually censored in China.

According to Techcrunch, the blocking might have to do with the ‘Two Sessions,’ the annual gathering of China’s governing classes, which is taking place in Beijing.

Many foreign websites have been blocked in China over the past decade. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube were all blocked in 2009. Google and Instagram were blocked in 2014, along with Tumblr and many others.

Despite the angry reactions on Weibo, mainland media have not report anything on the blockage of Pinterest.

– By Manya Koetse

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Wihic

    May 16, 2017 at 9:11 am

    pardon? Meilishuo and Mogujie clone Pinterest?
    i don’t their history, but now they’re online shop working on vertical market.
    Huaban, yes, it’s a copy.

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China and Covid19

“Goodbye, Health Code”: Chinese Netizens Say Farewell to the Green Horse

“For three years, I was able to guard my green horse,” some said after many places in China have now stopped checking Health Code apps.

Manya Koetse

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China’s Health Code apps and the green QR code have been a crucial part of China’s Covid strategy for nearly three years. Today, many Chinese bid farewell to the Health Code app and their lucky ‘Green Horse.’

Since 2020, China’s Health Code apps have become utterly ingrained in everyday life as a pivotal tool in the country’s ongoing fight against Covid-19. The Health Code system (there are at least 31 different regional health code applications across China) uses different sources of information, from self-reported health status to travel history and Covid test results, to determine whether or not a person gets a Green QR Code, a Yellow one, or a Red one.

Health Code scans are required when entering communities, malls, supermarkets, commercial buildings, and are basically key to moving around the city.

The Green color means you’re safe (low-risk) and have free movement, the Yellow code (mid-risk) requires self-isolation and the Red color code is the most feared one: it means you either tested positive or are at high risk of infection. Clinging on to one’s green code was also referred to as ‘Guarding the Green Horse’ (read all about this in our article on Health Codes).

‘Health Code’ in Chinese is jiànkāngmǎ 健康吗. ‘Green Horse’ in Chinese is lǜmǎ 绿马 , which sounds exactly the same as the word for ‘green code’ (绿码). In a social media environment where homophones and online puns are popular and ubiquitous, it did not take long for the ‘green code’ to turn into the ‘green horse.’

But a lot is changing when it comes to China’s fight against Covid. Following an unstoppable Omicron outbreak across China, earlier optimization of Covid measures in November, major Covid outbreaks and unrest at Foxconn in Zhengzhou, and protests in various Chinese cities, and a prior easing of Covid measures in various cities, Chinese central authorities announced far-reaching changes to the country’s dynamic Zero Covid policy on Wednesday.

These changes also include a stop to Health Code checks when traveling, and an end to the requirement of negative nucleic acid tests for many places (unless it is about special places such as nursing homes, orphanages, medical institutions, etc.)

On Thursday, December 6, Chinese social media users started saying goodbye to the Health Code system (#告别健康码#), posting photos and videos of QR posters and travel code information being taken down at stations.

Saying goodbye to health code is top trending on Weibo.

The hashtag “Saying Goodbye to Health Code” became a top trending hashtag on Weibo, and by 22:00 local time, had already received over 660 million clicks on the platform.

The Zhengzhou subway station is among the places that have already removed their Health Code posters (#郑州地铁撤下健康码海报#).

In the Guangzhou subway, posters were already removed on Wednesday.

Chinese media outlet The Observer (观察者网) also published various photos of station staff taking down QR code posters, using the hashtag “Many Stations Removing Health Code Posters” (#多地车站撤下健康码海报#).

“I didn’t need to scan the Health Code when entering university today. Bye bye, Health Code!” one netizen said, with another Sichuan-based blogger also writing: “The sport stadium, the mall, I didn’t need to scan anything today.”

“I’ve been waiting for this for so long, and it still came unexpectedly. From now on, we will need to protect ourselves,” one comment said. “This just feels amazing,” one Guangdong blogger wrote.

This idea of the government protecting people for three years, and that it is now up to the Chinese people to protect themselves, is a recurring one that you can see all over social media. Many people feel that zero Covid measures such as mass testing, local lockdowns, centralized quarantines, Health Code systems, 48-hour negative nucleic acid tests requirements, etc. were all government measures that were protecting the people.

Without this layer of protection, many say that individuals should now take responsibility for their own health.

But there are also those who criticize this line of thinking:

I particularly dislike that talk of ‘the nation has protected you for three years, you can’t count on them any more and will have to rely on yourself now,’ the people who say this are either stupid or spoiled. What is the nation? The nation is the people, the people are the nation, the three-year-long fight against the epidemic is one in which the masses sacrificed their time, space, money, and even their freedom. Every person paid their share of obligations. What is your talk of ‘they won’t look after us, it’s up to you now’? The best fight against the epidemic is one with an objective and scientific approach. Not a single country in this world really ‘laid flat’ [to be completely passive in light of epidemic]; every country has actively explored and sought for better ways to live with the virus. This is a people’s war. And in war, you’ll always have casualties. What we need to do is to balance between survival and development, to minimize the damage as much as possible.”

“There’s no use in saying goodbye to it,” one netizen said: “The most crucial time will be when the virus is gone.”

There are also those who expect the coming time is going to be strange: “I think most people will have a moment after this that they’ll take out their QR code for scanning whenever they enter a public place. After all, this wasn’t just a few days, it’s a habit we learned for three years.”

Some people are complaining that they are not seeing any differences yet in their area or city, from Changsha to Shenzhen, and that they are eagerly waiting for changes to be implemented.

Meanwhile, green horse images are circulating on Weibo, where many bid farewell to the mystical creature. “For three years, I was able to guard my green horse,” one person wrote: “Goodbye, green horse.”

“Goodbye and I hope never to see you again,” another Weibo user replied.

Read more about China’s Health Codes here. To read more about ‘Zero Covid’ ending, read here.

By Manya Koetse 

 

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©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Digital

Twitter Is Trending: Elon Musk’s ‘Extremely Hardcore’ Work Schedule Is ‘Soft Version’ of China’s 996 Work Culture

Some on Weibo joke that Elon Musk is “promoting Chinese culture” through his new approach to Twitter.

Manya Koetse

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Twitter is a hot topic on Weibo this week, with many Chinese commenters thinking Musk’s new strategy for Twitter must have been inspired by China’s strenuous 996 work culture.

The future of Twitter is a big topic of discussion all around global social media platforms. Although Twitter is officially blocked in mainland China, recent Twitter developments have also become a topic of interest on Weibo.

Twitter, an American social media platform founded in 2006, was acquired by the business magnet Elon Musk on 27 October 2022 for $44 billion. Ever since, discussions have been ongoing regarding the changes the platform is seeing – and might see – in the near future.

One of the new features that attracted a lot of attention is the idea of making Twitter users pay for their Twitter ‘blue check’ verification marks. At the same time, Musk received tons of criticism for firing about 3700 people, half of Twitter’s workforce, soon after he became the company’s new owner.

Now, Elon Musk is under fire again for setting new standards for employees to stay with the company, demanding they commit to an “extremely hardcore” working culture or otherwise quit. Soon after, resignations started to roll in.

Musk previously already got rid of remote working, telling workers they are expected in the office 40 hours per week at a minimum.

When the Twitter office buildings were temporarily closed and employee badge access was disabled until Monday, the hashtag “RIPTwitter” went trending on the platform. Many users announced their departure from the platform and predicted that Twitter will soon be shutting down.

At one point in this chaos, projections at the San Francisco Twitter headquarters building played a loop of spiteful comments against Musk (#推特公司员工大规模辞职#).

On Weibo, where Elon Musk is commonly referred to as 马斯克 (Mǎsīkè), the hashtag “Musk warns Twitter staff: they can beat it if they can’t work overtime” (#马斯克警告推特员工不能加班就走人#) received over 95 million views.

Some wondered about the new Twitter working conditions and compared them to the notorious ‘996’ work schedules in Chinese tech companies (996 = work from 9am to 9pm, six days per week).

Others joked that Elon Musk is “promoting Chinese culture” through his new approach to Twitter.

 

“If you join Alibaba, you should get ready to work 12 hours a day, otherwise why do you come to Alibaba?”

 

The current labor law in China bars employees from working more than 44 hours a week, and any overtime work must be paid. Although the 996 practice is technically prohibited by law, many companies still enforce the hours informally.

Many Chinese netizens blame Alibaba’s Jack Ma for praising the ‘996’ work system. In 2019, Ma called the 12-hour working day a “huge blessing,” causing much controversy online. During his talk at Kyiv International Economic Forum, Ma said: “(..) ‘996 is the spirit that I encourage Alibaba people to follow. If you want to have a bright future, (..) if you want to be successful, you have to work hard.”

On another occasion, the tech mogul reportedly said: “If you join Alibaba, you should get ready to work 12 hours a day, otherwise why do you come to Alibaba? We don’t need those who comfortably work 8 hours.”

In 2021, Chinese authorities announced a nationwide crackdown on 996 working schedules.

Although Musk’s words reminded many of 996 and Jack Ma’s speech on such work systems, some commenters noted that Twitter’s working schedules are still far more relaxed than those at some ‘996’ tech companies in China.

“Musk’s request for ‘high-intensity work’ is to work 40 hours a week at the office, it’s still far removed from the 996 schedule, if they can’t make this work, then it shows how badly Twitter really had more hands than needed before,” one commenter wrote.

“Surely, nobody believes that their high-intensity work schedule is the same as our overtime? For them, it means working eight hours every day and getting two days off, for us, the high-intensity overtime is the kind that might make you drop dead in the end.”

“If they work overtime, they actually get paid for it,” another person wrote.

“If working 40 hours a week is the requirement, then how many hours did they work before this?”

Meanwhile, an older viral video showing ‘a day in the life’ of a Twitter employee made its rounds on Weibo.

Waking up at 6:30, the male employee first goes to the gym until 7:45, gets ready for the day and heads to work at 8:40. He then starts his work day by having breakfast at the canteen and then arrives at the desk at 9:20. At 12:00, he enjoys the company’s lunch buffet and catches some sun. After some afternoon meetings, there are snacks and fruit. After some work from the office sofa, he concludes his working day at 16:30 and heads home to meet friends for dinner and drinks.

“Perhaps Musk also saw this video,” some commented, with others saying: “No wonder he laid off staff,” and “Not surprised Twitter wasn’t making money.”

Many commenters on Weibo understand Musks’s choice to fire so much employees from a business point of view, with reduced labor costs being an easy way to make the platform more profitable.

However, some commenters think Musk is trying to bring the ‘Chinese model’ to America, and that this is the road to failure for Twitter due to the different work culture.

Musk previously already expressed hopes of turning Twitter into a platform that is similar to Tencent’s WeChat, China’s most popular ‘superapp.’

“It looks like they are looking to us for inspiration,” one Weibo blogger wrote.

“Why do we care about them at all?”, one reply said: “This topic actually shows how lamentable Chinese workers are. Their single sentence of ‘working long hours at high intensity’ is translated as ‘if you don’t work overtime you can leave’ by us. Why? Because Chinese workers have already incorporated the idea that if the boss asks you to work at high intensity it means working overtime hours.”

One person wondered: “When will Musk buy Weibo?”

By Manya Koetse , with contributions by Miranda Barnes

 

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Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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