Facebook owned popular photo-sharing service Instagram has reportedly been blocked in China since Sunday.
The latest move from the Chinese government was prompted by pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which led people to post photos and videos on social media sites, including Instagram, showing Hong Kong police firing tear gas in an attempt to clear thousands of pro-democracy protestors off the streets.
The protesters had gathered outside government headquarters to challenge Beijing’s decision to reject open candidate nominations under proposed guidelines for first-ever Hong Kong leader elections to be held in 2017.
Many of the photos of the clashes were posted on the image sharing app under the hashtag “#OccupyCentral” or “#OccupyHK.” The phrase “Occupy Central” was blocked on Chinese microblogging site Weibo on Sunday.
Website monitoring services blockedinchina.net and greatfire.org also reported failure to access Instagram servers across China, including Beijing and Shenzhen.
Meanwhile, China’s search engine Baidu and popular social network Sina Weibo have also censored search results for “Hong Kong teargas.”
China also blocked privacy focused search engine DuckDuckGo sometime earlier this month, and several Google services in June in the wake of the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre.
It is however to be noted that Instagram’s China blockout would not prevent users in Hong Kong from posting on social media, nor users in other countries viewing the images.