As of today certain aspects of the Flipboard experience have been blocked for Chinese users, at the very least access to Facebook and Twitter according to Flipboard CEO Mike McCue. While direct access to Facebook and Twitter is routinely blocked in China, the Flipboard app talked to its own US-based servers, which in turn talked to Twitter and Facebook so this block is particularly interesting.
“Lots of folks in China had been using us happily until now,” McCue said, “Guess we had unwittingly poked a hole in their wall which has now been shut down… Presumably unless we block Facebook and Twitter ourselves in China.” The iPad app is still available in the Chinese app store.
McCue tells me that it’s still unclear if you can access Google Reader, Instagram or Flickr from China and that we’ll know more in the morning about what exactly is going on.
While McCue says that a small percentage of the app’s users are Chinese, Chinese clones like Tencent’s ICare, MagSina and the NetEase Reader are quite popular. Flipboard itself recently raised $50 million on a $200 million valuation.
Says McCue on the clones, “They are complete replicas visually (though they are super slow performance wise),” begging the question, “Do the Chinese censor US services to protect their regime or to protect their market?”
Update from McCue:
“I can now confirm Flipboard itself is being blocked. All services (not just Facebook and Twitter) no longer work. [Users] used to be able to login to Facebook and Twitter using VPN. Now with our servers blocked, even if you had successfully logged in, we can’t show data. Also, users who had setup Flipboard from outside china used to be able to use Facebook and Twitter when within china. That is no longer the case.”