scratch ban china

According to Greatfire.org, a site that monitors internet censorship in China, internet users in China cannot access Scratch’s website anymore. It says that the website was 100% blocked around August 20, and a user flagged the Scratch ban on August 14. (Source: TechCrunch)

Scratch programming language was developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. There are around 60 million kids who use Scratch’s interactive programming features to learn how to make games, animated stories, and more.

A total of 5.65% or 3 million Scratch users reside in China. And this is just the registered number, and the actual figure may be even higher than this.

Why Did China Ban ‘Scratch’ Programming Language?

Even though we are yet to hear an official statement either from the Chinese authorities or the Scratch organization, but the clues suggest that the Scratch ban was imposed due to the increasing anti-China content on the open-source platform.

A state-run news outlet issued a blasting report about the projects on Scratch on August 21. It claimed that the platform harbored “a great deal of humiliating, fake, and libelous content about China,” that included placing Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan in a dropdown list of independent “countries.”

The report says that “any service distributing information in China” has to comply with the local regulations. It also suggested that Scratch’s website and user forum had been banned in the country.

Scratch programming language is used extensively by school going kids in China. Several coding competitions for kids using Scratch are held quite frequently.

But another article published youth-focused state outlet on August 11 was found stating:

“Platforms like Scratch have a large number of young Chinese users. That’s exactly why the platform must exercise self-discipline. Allowing the free flow of anti-China and separatist discourse will cause harm to Chinese people’s feelings, cross China’s red line, and poison China’s future generation.”

What Happens Next?

The Scratch editor, which is quite popular in almost every country in the world, can be accessed in 50+ languages. It is downloadable and can be used offline. So this means those Chinese users who have already installed the Scratch software on their PCs can continue using it for now.

However, we aren’t sure if this ban will be extended to the Scratch software’s future version updates as well and, which in turn, stops working eventually.

In addition to this, it is unclear whether the ban is temporary or a permanent one. In any case, if the ban is proven permanent (which is quite possible), China will probably whip up home-baked alternatives for the same.

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An Editor and a Tech Journalist with a software development background. I am a big fan of technology and memes. At Fossbytes, I cover all aspects of tech but my specific area of interest is Programming and Development. Drop an email if you have any software/hardware/research to share or tech-related queries!