The famous photo “Tank Man” of an unidentified protester blocking a line of Chinese tanks in Tiananmen Square on the eve of the anniversary of the repression mysteriously disappeared from the Bing search engine on Friday. “This is a human error, and we’re actively working to fix it,” said a spokesman for the computer giant Microsoft, which runs Bing hours after reports in the American press.
A search for “Tank Man” on Google Images, one of the most powerful rival services on the Internet, led to hundreds of incidents involving American photographer Charlie Cole. On June 5, 1989, in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, we see an unidentified protester in a white shirt trying to symbolically block the advance of a line of at least 17 tanks.
The results were censored in China, but usually nowhere else
The pro-democracy protests continued for seven weeks. Their oppression killed hundreds, thousands or more. Clichy, which won the World Press Photo of the Year award in 1990, remains anonymous in China due to censorship. The country has an extensive Internet surveillance system that allows it to reproduce any content that is perceived as sensitive, such as political criticism or pornography. In the name of stability, the country is demanding that the digital giants have their own sensors to implement this policy upstream.
Failing to comply with these rules, most foreign search engines and social networks (Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are blocked in China, and Internet users can only access them using bypass software (VPN). Bing agrees to play the game in China, but outside of China, the disappearance of the photo in France and the United States seemed particularly unintelligible.
Remembrance of the Tiananmen attack is banned in China, the only place in the semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong that has suffered this. Candle vigilance was banned this year as Beijing turned against all forms of opposition in the former British colony. This is the first time in 32 years that the park has stood.