Employee claims Twitter uses Chinese government funding for advertising


Twitter is not accessible to China’s 1.4 billion people, according to Chinese authorities. However, its local government spends money on global service-related advertising.

Reuters reporters found that in the previous two years, local government officials and Chinese Communist Party propaganda offices bought advertisements. They bought the ads for local authorities and towns looking to boost tourism.

China has become one of the service’s top non-US revenue generators and the fastest growing overseas advertising market.

Twitter said it generally does not allow advertising from state-run media. However, he sometimes made an exception. Public media advertising in China features tourist destinations as well as sites of economic and cultural significance.

He said Twitter was told by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that a Chinese agent was employed there. The biggest spy organization in China, according to Zatko, is the Ministry of State Security, he told the senators. This is denied by Twitter.

Twitter’s business activities in China have recently come under intense scrutiny in the media. Peiter Zatko, the former chief security officer of Twitter, testified before the US Senate Judiciary Committee.

Additionally, according to Zatko, “Twitter executives have acknowledged that accepting Chinese money may harm users in China.” Zatko claimed that other Twitter employees informed him that the money pouring in from China was too crucial to stop. Reuters, however, said it was unable to independently verify these claims. According to unnamed sources who spoke to Reuters, Twitter sells advertising to Chinese organizations for around “hundreds of millions of dollars a year”.

Additionally, Zatko revealed to the Senate committee that some Twitter employees had expressed concern over the situation. They worried that despite Twitter being banned in China, the service was still receiving funding from government-affiliated entities.

Twitter’s vice president of global public policy is Sinead McSweeney. In a March social media post, she claimed there is an “information imbalance” when states that limit access to Twitter within their borders continue to use it for their own communications. Since March, there have been a lot of ads on Twitter for Chinese local governments as well as state media.

The local Chinese government continued to buy ads on foreign social media during the temporary Chinese border lockdown. Why they placed these ads is unclear. Until last month, the official People’s Daily Twitter accounts for the Chinese Communist Party in Chongqing all continued to promote their services.

Chinese courts have reportedly convicted scores of people over the past three years for using Twitter to criticize officials, according to court records and media reports. State-run groups also continued to simultaneously buy advertising on Twitter.

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  • Employee claims Twitter uses Chinese government funding for advertising
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