IN SPITE of China’s best efforts to block a number of Western sites, people will always find a way to get around the Great Firewall – and about 10 million people may have succeeded. According to an anonymous source, Twitter estimates it has about 10 million active users in China.
While this estimate falls way below previous estimates – London-based Global Web Index pegged the number at 35.5 million last September – it could still mean that Twitter has a fairly substantial and loyal base in the country.
The anonymous source told TechCrunch that the social media company estimates it has 10 million users but this number is likely to be inaccurate due to the use of Virtual Private Network (VPN) which Chinese users have to employ to get around the block.
VPN software allows people to use an internet connection outside of the country they are in, therefore bypassing the nation’s firewall. However, this makes it difficult to track the exact number of people who do this as the person’s location would show up as being wherever the VPN is set to, which could be anywhere in the world.
A spokesperson confirmed that Twitter is censored and blocked in mainland China, and the company does not comment on user numbers.
Although 10 million users is tiny compared to Twitter’s 310 million active users, it does show the lengths people in the heavily censored country are going to in order to explore the cyberworld.
Twitter still has business links in China, where it offers a global reach for Chinese companies and media through advertising, much like Facebook, which is also blocked in the country.
They said in a statement: “As a global platform, we are already engaged with advertisers, content providers and influencers across Greater China to help them reach audiences around the world. We are focusing on three Chinese business audiences that can leverage our global platform: continue to serve export advertisers, do more with publishers/creators, and reach out to developers.”