BEIJING — Google+ is a “virtual ghost town” for American Web users compared with Facebook, and hasn’t been able to prove its value since it launched last year, the Wall Street Journal wrote Tuesday. Not so in China.
The Chinese government, sometime last week and without fanfare, loosened the normal censorship controls over Google+. Soon the Google+ page for Barack Obama's reelection campaign appeared to have been overwhelmed by comments from China's netizens. The flood continued Tuesday and has become a hot trending topic on Chinese news Web sites.
Most of the comments are benign, even flattering. They come in torrents, are primarily written in Chinese and quickly fill the maximum allowable comment space of 500 per topic. Some users seemed to be surprised about — and flaunting — their new-found on-line liberty.
The English-language Web site ChinaSMACK translated some of the Chinese comments. Most of the commenters used what appeared to be pseudonyms.
“Dear President Obama, when will you send troops to liberate China?” asked one commenter.
“Mr. President, we long for America's freedom,” said another.
And one wrote: “Hello Mr. President, I am Chinese. I hope that when you are dealing with the Chinese government that you won’t only focus on economic interests. The people here also need freedom and democracy. We need a free internet and a safeguarded life that is not too hard. Hope you can do your best to help us, thank you.”
The Obama administration has long been calling for more Internet freedom in China, but some of the comments on the president’s Facebook page may be unwelcome.
“Obama, you do not contribute to world peace, but earlier get the Nobel peace prize, do not you feel ridiculous?” one commenter wrote in English.
An apparent American user, under the name Brian Anderson and writing in English, chastised the Chinese “occupiers” for posting most of their comments in Chinese, a language most Americans cannot read. “I think it’s awesome that China now has access to G+, but seriously, if you’re going to flood an American politician with comments, at least put them in English so those of us who actually live here can read them,” he wrote.
Since Google+ was launched last year, the Chinese government has mostly blocked it using the so-called Great Firewall. There was no immediate word on why it was unblocked.