Twitter has announced that it will also support Chinese language in the coming weeks. It is important to keep in mind that twitter has been considered the agent of change in many important political events. Ranging from the Arab uprising to the rise of nationalism in a conservative country like Iran. As a result of which it was banned in China. The announcement was made in a research report. The twitter executives have not made any official statement regarding the same.
The confusing Tweet
This step defies any common sense. First of all it represents a softening of stand on the part of Twitter. China is famous for its Great firewall mechanism under which it blocks and censors Internet heavily. In the past few years Google and twitter have vehemently opposed such censorship by the Chinese Government. But after this move, everybody is confused about the twitter’s stand. Since the website is banned in China; this new service won’t be of any help to the users in the mainland.
China has its own Twitter like application that was obviously released to counter the popularity of the former. The Chinese service goes by the name of Sina’s Weibo, which claims to have more than 100 million users in China. The only significance of the move can be read from the angle of Chinese speakers stationed outside of Mainland China. In countries like Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, there is a significant population speaking Chinese language. The estimated Internet users in this country are around 485 million. This move is clearly against the stoicism, twitter has shown in the past.
The network of revolution
Experts see this move from various angles. Some see it as a measure of capturing the Chinese speaking population spread across the world and outside of the mainland. Some see it as a last ditch attempt to increase the numbers of users. But nobody wants to believe that twitter is selling out under pressure from china. Only time will tell whether this move is an attempt on the twitter side to earn some brownie points and impress Chinese population. China has vehemently opposed any kind of free press and freedom in their country.
The recent spate of Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiabo is fresh in everyone’s memory. Internet has acted as a whip against any kind of censorship, whether it was the fundamentalist of the Arab World, the conservatives of European countries or the Communists of China. It would be interesting to see how it plays out between twitter and china in the future, but is sure that twitter sees itself as the arbiter of free speech and free thought and China is the very antithesis of it. The internet community has reserved their reaction for the time as everyone is waiting for twitters new move. Chinese officials have also refused to comment on the issue, their previous tiff with Google is still a fresh in people’s mind. But one thing is certain that twitter have surely emerged as one of the big players in this arena.
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