Instagram reportedly blocked in China amid pro-democracy protests

The Facebook-owned photo sharing app appears to be the latest victim of online censorship in China.

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Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong
Demonstrators disperse as tear gas is fired by police during a protest in Hong Kong. Getty Images

Instagram appears to be down in China as pro-democracy demonstrations are underway in Hong Kong.

The Facebook-owned photo sharing app has been blocked in mainland China, according to monitoring sites and reports out of the country. The move appears prompted by people posting photos and videos on social media sites, including Instagram, showing Hong Kong police using tear gas in an attempt to clear protesters from the streets.

Instagram did not respond to a request for confirmation.

Many of the images have been posted with the hashtag "#OccupyCentral" or "#OccupyHK." The phrase "Occupy Central" was blocked on Sunday on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site similar to Twitter, reported Reuters.

Instagram, which has managed to grow in China despite its parent company Facebook being blocked for years, appears to be just the latest victim of online censorship in China. Earlier this month, China blocked privacy focused search engine DuckDuckGo, and in June, several Google services were reportedly blocked as the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre neared.

Blocking Instagram in China does not prevent people in Hong Kong from posting images of the protests or prevent people in other countries from viewing the images. The protests started as sit-ins over a week earlier by students calling for Beijing to grant genuine democratic reforms to the semi-autonomous city.