It's relatively common knowledge that the Chinese government blocks certain content in China. Most of this won't affect Chinese users. But does iChat censor messages with said content in them?

This Yahoo Answers question says that the content won't be blocked unless it's pornographic or politically extremist. However, I'm not sure if Apple lets China access their messages, so I'm not sure if the Chinese government could do this.

Unfortunately, I don't have a way to test this myself. I've done some research, and I haven't been able to find a definitive answer, thanks to the fact that I can't read Chinese.

Example: I send a message to person 1 in China saying 'Down with the government! Tank Man! Tibet! Liu Xiaobo! Tiananmen Square protests of 1989!' Does Person 1 get the message or not?

  • 7
    When it comes to dangerous science, testing this one is high on my list.
    – Ian C.
    Commented Mar 24, 2012 at 17:00
  • 6
    That answer on yahoo must be very credible if it has been posted by Charlie Sheen.
    – gentmatt
    Commented Mar 24, 2012 at 18:47
  • Are you referring to the service providers that iChat can use for service location and status brokering, ISP filtering in china (which iChat uses to talk), blocking DNS to the chat servers or the software itself somehow censoring things? Seems your question needs to be refined technically to be of much use.
    – bmike
    Commented Mar 25, 2012 at 4:07
  • @bmike: With this question, I'm trying to find out whether or not messages of this content would be blocked through iChat specifically, and why. Commented Mar 25, 2012 at 12:16
  • 2
    Your question is phrased "Does iChat block content", when really I think you are meaning to ask "Does the Chinese Gov' block/censor iChat communications", and as such the answer is of little relevance to the site topic, in my opinion. You only have to word it slightly different to see that the question is about censorship, not iChat in particular - "What chat protocols does the Chinese Gov block/censor" etc.
    – stuffe
    Commented Mar 25, 2012 at 20:25

4 Answers 4


No - iChat has no provision for blocking or filtering what you do.

It does rely on DNS and thus is easily blocked by any network operator that chooses to do so. It is vulnerable to blocking of the major chat servers that let people know who else is online.


iChat doesn't block anything. On the other hand the Great Firewall of China might block packets containing censored content or trigger alerts to act against users exchanging the data.

iChat had a an option to encrypt communications between users which allowed to keep the communications private as long as the certificates used were not intercepted. But it was removed in Lion and the iCloud transition.

iMessage will probably replace iChat and it is supposed to use an encryption scheme.

Due to its P2P nature Skype uses an end to end encryption system to avoid intermediate nodes eavesdropping on communications.


I did my internship in China and I suffered a lot from the censor. And since I needed unrestricted access to IM's and other information, I bought myself a VPN.

The software will fool the blocking process and pretend to be in an other country. It's how I was sure nothing was blocked and I would get access to the needed sources (Google.com, Facebook.com, YouTube.com,...)

A good overview of some VPN's can be found here.


In any case, I would suggest using the Internet in China only behind a VPN located in Hong Kong. This way no one can stop you from doing nothing online and your speed won't be affected.

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