A growing number of users who have been using the blocked platform through Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have been swept up in a sharp escalation of Beijing’s censorship effort, as authorities tighten their grip over Chinese citizens’ online lives. There are an estimated 3.2 million Twitter users in China – or around 0.4 percent of those who use the internet.
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Wang’s experience is far from unique – as The Times reports that one Twitter user spent 15 days in a detention center, another person had their family threatened, and “.”
Beijing’s war against internet freedom reveals its vision of internet control over the user of social media – while the CHinese government has stepped up their demands that Google and Facebook take down content deemed offensive despite the fact that both companies’ sites are blocked in China.
What’s more, The companies cited user complaints and the disclosure of personal information.
And while people in China are prevented from using American social media platforms, Beijing has been more than happy to use them to spread news through outlets like the Communist Party-controlled People’s Daily newspaper and the Xinhua news agency.
“On the one hand, state media takes advantage of the full features of these platforms to reach millions of people,” said Sarah Cook, a senior analyst covering East Asia at the pro-democracy DC think tank Freedom House. “On the other hand, ordinary Chinese are risking interrogation and jail for using these same platforms to communicate with each other and the outside world.”
Meanwhile, what few foreign platforms are allowed in China have acquiesced to Beijing’s demands for censorship.
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