According to media reports today, the Chinese government is stamping down on the use of Twitter and other micro-blogging site by the Chinese population. To many, Twitter and similar sites represents a waste of time and an endless series of updates covering the mundane processes of much of humanities existence. However – the real value of micro blogging sites, such as Twitter, is for viral news or message distribution (especially over mobile networks) and as a mass transit point to information and news stories. This is where the Chinese government has become concerned. Within a matter of minutes, a story or update posted to a popular social networking site, the information can be shared with an enormous pool of interested parties – who in-turn can share and refer other to that same story to a much larger pool of potential consumers. Due to the rapid pace that news can travel over mobile networks, the Chinese government had stepped in and is now blocking access to many micro-blogging sites.

In a society such as China, where the control of information and limiting the populations access to ‘bad’ information – the internet is proving to be a formidable and, perhaps, un-beatable foe for the Chinese government.   Each Chinese citizen who has internet access represents a point of access for ‘bad’ information – and with in excess of 300 million daily internet users in China that is too may holes to plug in the dam. The internet, combined with a desire from its users for information, will win in any long term battle for control. There are almost certainly hundreds (if not thousands) of platforms for information distributions that the Chinese government is battling for control of (mostly by shutting them down). But it is the hundreds (if not thousands) that they are not aware of, or that will be created tomorrow that will make plugging the dam a truly impossible feat (especially a dam with so many millions of holes).

Many people believe that in the cold war battle between the Soviet Union and America is was the Americans who defeated the Soviet Union. In reality – the Soviets defeated themselves through the creation of a system that could not be supported, and which ultimately collapsed. The Chinese authorities are facing a similar potential for self destruction through their obsession to control ‘bad’ information. Instead of loosening control and allowing access and, albeit, limited discussion, they are committed with fighting a futile and ultimately pointless battle to beat the internet – which has the potential to destroy them.

So – where missiles, bombs, and espionage has failed, could perhaps social networking could win…?

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