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PurposeAdvocacy against Internet censorship in China

GreatFire (GreatFire.org) is a website[note 1] that monitors the status of websites censored by the Great Firewall of China[2] and helps Chinese Internet users circumvent the censorship and blockage of websites in China.[3][4] The site was first launched in 2011 by an anonymous trio.[5] GreatFire is funded by sources inside and outside China, including the US-government-backed Open Technology Fund.[6][7]

GreatFire hosts a testing system that allows visitors to test in real time the accessibility of a website from various locations within China. The organization's stated mission was to "bring transparency to the Great Firewall of China."[8] GreatFire also provides another test system, Blocky, which allows users to search for online services and check their status.[9]

GreatFire has worked with BBC to make the Chinese-language BBC website available to users in China, despite it being blocked by the Great Firewall, by using a method known as collateral freedom[10] that mirrored content on widely used content delivery networks, such as Amazon CloudFront and CloudFlare, so that it would be too economically costly for censors to block.[11][12][13] The organization has since set up similar mirror sites for other blocked websites, such as Google and the New York Times, with a directory of links hosted on GitHub.[14]

For security reasons, the members of the organization remain anonymous and do not know much about each other to prevent the whole project from coming down in the event one would be caught by the Chinese government.[15]

GreatFire has been targeted with distributed denial-of-service attacks that attempt to take down the website by overloading its servers with traffic.[16] In April 2015 it was targeted by a Chinese attack tool named Great Cannon that redirected massive amounts of Internet traffic to servers used by GreatFire.[17]

A sister site, FreeWeibo, monitors and makes available content from leading Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo that has been censored and deleted by Chinese authorities under the Great Firewall.[18]

In 2015, the Associated Press reported that GreatFire receives funding from a variety of sources, including the Open Technology Fund (OTF), a United States government-backed program.[6] The Open Technology Fund says on its website that it gave Greatfire.org a $114,000 grant in 2014.[19] On its website, the organization identifies GreatFire as an "OTF-supported" initiative.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The website declares itself as a "non-profit organization." However, there is no evidence provided to support this claim, nor is there third-party evidence that it is registered in any jurisdiction.


  1. ^ "When did GreatFire.org launch?". GreatFire.org. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  2. ^ Biggs, John (March 19, 2015). "Anti-Censorship Service Greatfire Is Under Attack". TechCrunch. AOL Inc. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  3. ^ "Chinese anti-censorship group Greatfire.org suffers massive hack". The Guardian. March 20, 2015. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  4. ^ Boehler, Patrick (March 20, 2015). "Hackers Attack GreatFire.org, a Workaround for Websites Censored in China". The New York Times. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  5. ^ Frary, Mark; Bright, Martin (April 26, 2021). "Burning through censorship". Index on Censorship. 50 (1): 36–39. doi:10.1177/03064220211012294. ISSN 0306-4220.
  6. ^ a b Associated Press (2015-03-20). "Chinese anti-censorship group Greatfire.org suffers massive hack". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-06-24.
  7. ^ a b "China's Great Cannon". Open Technology Fund. Retrieved 2019-06-24.
  8. ^ "Online Censorship In China - GreatFire". GreatFire.org. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  9. ^ "BLOCKY". blocky.greatfire.org. Retrieved 2024-02-01.
  10. ^ Robinson, David; Yu, Harlan; An, Anne. "Collateral Freedom - A Snapshot of Chinese Internet Users Circumventing Censorship" (PDF). Open Internet Tools Project. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-07-01. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
  11. ^ Meyer, David (November 24, 2014). "BBC uses "collateral freedom" system to bypass Chinese censorship". GigaOM. Gigaom, Inc. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  12. ^ Wilson, Mark (November 25, 2014). "GreatFire.org and BBC punch uncensored news through the Great Firewall of China". BetaNews. BetaNews, Inc. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  13. ^ Newman, Lily Hay (November 25, 2014). "The BBC Is Working With a Transparency Group to Bring Uncensored News Into China". Slate. The Slate Group LLC. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  14. ^ "GitHub: greatfire/wiki". GitHub. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  15. ^ Ritzen, Yarno (2018-06-21). "Meet the activists fighting the Great Chinese Firewall". Aljazeera.
  16. ^ Russel, Jon (March 30, 2015). "These Activists Are Plotting To End Internet Censorship In China". TechCrunch. AOL Inc. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  17. ^ Perlroth, Nicole (April 10, 2015). "China Is Said to Use Powerful New Weapon to Censor Internet". The New York Times. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  18. ^ "不受屏蔽的"自由微博"" [Unblocked "Free Weibo"]. Deutsche Welle (in Chinese). May 17, 2013. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  19. ^ "Greatfire - Expanding Collateral Freedom". Open Technology Fund. Retrieved 2019-06-24.

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