Chinese “Occupy” Obama’s Google+ Page

President Barack Obama reaching out a hand to Chinese President Hu Jintao<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/4140424101/">The White House</a>/Flickr

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A crack appeared recently in the Great Firewall of Chinawhere the government blocks Facebook and Twitter and censors search terms like “democracy”, “human rights”, and “dictatorship”. Google noticed early last week that Chinese netizens started accessing its social network Google+ and almost immediately began inundating President Obama’s page, Reuters reported yesterday. In what seemed like a mad scramble, commenters posted as early as 5:00 a.m. in China to be one of the 500 comments Google allows on each post. Google says it had not implemented any changes that would have allowed for access, which suggests that Chinese web users may have found a censorship loophole by surfing the internet on their cell phones rather than personal computers.

Some of the Google+ commenters joke that they are “? (zhan)”—occupying—Obama’s page. Others offer tongue-in-cheek commentary, complimenting the president’s physical appearance or asking him for travel recommendations. But the ones that captured the interest of news outlets—from the Washington Post to the BBC—are fearlessly political:

Even more surprising is the unusual absence of jingoistic China defenders who commonly rebut pro-democracy, pro-America comments in Chinese internet forums. For example, here are some comments to an article on popular web portal Netease about Beijing’s spate of sky-blackening pollution last December. 

“It’s just fog, the air quality is still very good.”

“It’s five times better than the weather in the U.S.”

Chinese netizens refer to these posters as the Wumaodangthe “Fifty-Cent Party”—because it’s widely rumored that these commenters are paid by the government (fifty-cents per post) to populate web forums with pro-Communist Party verbiage. The absence of these comments on Obama’s Google+ page gives us a rare glimpse of Chinese public debate without the noise of paid shills.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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