One of the best spectator events in China's social media happens whenever Fang Bingxing makes a post.
As the lead designer of the Great Firewall, Fang is essentially the architect of China's Internet imprisonment. But while he's shielded China's citizens from the dangers of the open Web, he can hardly shield himself from populist rage.
On Chinese New Year, Fang posted a cheery little (third-person) note to his 37,000 followers on Sina Weibo, China's most popular social network:
“Fang Binxing wishes everyone a happy new year! Success in all endeavors in the Year of the Snake!” (Translation via Beijing Cream.)
Chinese netizens reacted with predictable vitriol. Of the 30,000 people who shared his post, more than 10,000 appended a simple note: "滚"--pronounced "gun"--or "screw off."
"Gun" isn't exactly one of the most colorful words in Chinese. But Beijing Cream's Anthony Tao put it in accurate perspective:
"One person doing it is 'get lost." A few more is “take a hike.” 10,000? That’s 'fuck off' in all-caps."
Even 10,000 people screaming "fuck off" pales in comparison the Internet's reaction earlier this year, when Fang posted an obituary for a colleague. More than 14,000 people replied with a quote from a popular pop song (a clever way to avoid the censors): "It's a shame it wasn't you."
Here are some other invectives netizens have thrown Fang's way in the past, via China Digital Times:
-I want to know how Fang Binxing’s mother feels about those comments???
-a Twitter user is here to laugh at Eunuch Fang’s GFW.
- He’s a skunk lower than animals.
-This SOB dares to show up here. F–k your sister.
-Greetings to your whole family.
-f–k you 404 times.
- Let’s throw bricks at Fang Binxing as quick as possible.
The Great Firewall is a vast apparatus of censorship tools that allows the government to block any website it deems dangerous, inappropriate, or just plain embarrassing. It's the reason why Chinese can't access some of the world's most popular sites, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and just about any porn site.
Attacks against Fang aren't just confined to the Internet. In 2011, students threw very real eggs and shoes at him during a speech at Wuhan University. The Chinese Internet, according to The Telegraph, reacted with "uproar and delight."
Photo by gagilas/Flickr