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Reports suggest China may have blocked access to Facebook

While nothing has been confirmed, Twitter messages and blog posts suggest that problems accessing Facebook in China may be more than just Internet service provider issues.

(Updated at 10:45 p.m. PDT with ping information from CNET China, and at 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday with further information.)

Rumors began to surface late on Tuesday that Facebook could no longer get past the Great Firewall of China.

The company has acknowledged the situation but could not confirm a reason why. "We are disappointed to learn of reports that users in China are having difficulty getting access to Facebook," representatives from the social network said in a statement. "We have not made any changes to our site that would create access problems and are looking into the situation."

As early as Tuesday morning, a Wall Street Journal report suggested that Facebook members in China were having issues accessing the site, but the story gained little traction and suggested that technical difficulties may have been to blame.

China-based users of Twitter, many of them expatriates from the U.S. and Europe, painted a more suspicious picture. "Facebook is blocked in China," one said later on Tuesday. "There are going to be a lot of very p***ed off people here. What next, Twitter?"

"I'm on China Netcom and have the same issues with Facebook IP numbers, so it's not just China Telecom," another Twitter user said in response to theories that Facebook downages were related to Internet service providers.

However, Rick Martin, my colleague at CNET China, reports that access to the social-networking site is "off and on," but it "doesn't look like a block." Martin pinged the site and got a "unusual result"--30 percent packet loss. "Which kinda reflects the behavior I'm seeing--sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't," he said.

The story flew under the radar for much of the day; the first I saw of it was a blog post from CollegeHumor co-founder Ricky Van Veen. "They could have remained on if they had played by China's rules and allowed the government to censor their content," Van Veen wrote. "But unlike Google and Yahoo and everybody else, Mark Zuckerberg refused to play by their rules and told them to go f*** themselves. Hats off to you, Mark."

CNET News.com could not immediately confirm that assertion on the part of Facebook.