Twitter China in the works, says Dorsey

In social media and digital activism discussion, Twitter creator says China channel coming soon

Technology trends and news by Ronny Kerr
March 16, 2010
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Twitter ChinaA discussion of social media and digital activism took place in New York on Monday evening, in which Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei asked Twitter creator Jack Dorsey whether we should expect there to ever be a Chinese-language version of Twitter's service.

"Is it possible to provide a Chinese access on Twitter?" Ai asked Dorsey. "I need a clear answer, yes or no."

"I would say yes. It's just a matter of time," responded Dorsey over teleconference.

Dorsey admits, of course, that the channel may not materialize for some time due to technical and legal issues.

Access to Twitter in China remains blocked, in line with the government's strict censorship regulations. Though some users can still occasionally break across the government's firewall, Ai believes it is imperative that Twitter offer a Chinese-language version of the site to make the service more useful for those who do not speak English.

"In China, we cannot see YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter, and very soon, maybe not see Google," Ai said. "Basically it is society that forbids any flow of information and freedom of speech."

Ai's concerns are very real and timely.

Tension between the Chinese government and Google reached new heights last Friday when Li Yizhong, Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology, responded to the search engine company's threat to exit the country after discovering anti-activist email attacks originating from China.

"If you want to do something that disobeys Chinese law and regulations, you are unfriendly, you are irresponsible and you will have to pay the consequences," Li said.

Though Google may not even be the number one search engine in China, Ai understands that losing Google means losing a major part of the Web and represents another large blow to basic rights.

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