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Instagram reportedly blocked in mainland China as protests in Hong Kong intensify

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Hong Kong's Central business district is currently in the midst of a massive pro-Democracy protest, and the Chinese government appears to be doing all it can to prevent images of the demonstrations from reaching the mainland. Reports suggest that China has blocked access to Instagram in the Chinese mainland. The site was one of a scarce few social networks that had avoided the attention of China's censors, but as photos of the protests flooded the image sharing service under the hashtag #OccupyCentral, it seems the government decided to pull the plug. Website monitoring services blockedinchina.net and greatfire.org both indicate that mainland China cannot access Instagram.

Notably, a block from Beijing does not mean that Hong Kong has been cut off from the service. Bystanders are continuing to post photos from the protests onto Instagram from the city. The apparent Instagram block comes as Hong Kong police forces have intensified their efforts to break up the protests. The New York Times reports that riot police have been deployed and are using tear gas against protestors. The protests, currently in their third day, are largely led by younger residents who oppose a new proposal that would allow officials in Beijing to approve candidates before election day, a system some say would make a mockery of elections.