The Chinese want to know why China is on Twitter and they aren’t

By Dashiell Bennett | Atlantic

ON THE WEB, 11 December 2012

Chinese Internet users are a little miffed today after learning that the Communist Party’s official news service has its own Twitter account, even though Twitter is supposed to be banned in China. The Xinhua News Agency has been posting on Twitter (@XHNews) since March 1, but the vast majority of Chinese citizens had no idea until today, because they aren’t allowed to be on Twitter themselves. A report in Yunnan Info Daily finally clued them in, sending China’s actual microblogging service, Sina Weibo, into a frenzy of outrage.

Users there are not unaware of the irony, posting comments like “I am going to report this to the police: Xinhua is obviously breaching our Internet laws” and “Xinhua has proved itself a traitor who has chosen an evil path,” which shows they are also aware of sarcasm. Almost all other social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube are locked away behind the “Great Firewall of China,” forcing Chinese citizens to be more creative in their Internet usage.

Xinhua’s account is written in English and has posted about 3,000 times, but is not following any other accounts and has ever @ replied to anyone. (They’ve also dished out 10 rare retweets.) There are two older, now defunct accounts that may or may not have been “official.” They reportedly once followed more than 400 people as recently as October, but slowly unfollowed everyone over the last several weeks. The fact that anyone living in China is not allowed to read it, almost make @XHNews the purest form of propaganda: It talks to no one who knows better and listens to no one who talks back.

Copyright © 2012 The Atlantic Monthly Group Published in The Atlantic Wire Posted in Tech » Tags: , , ,


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