Twitter is blocked in China, but plenty of people use it anyway, even major Chinese companies. From data in the social media company’s transparency reports, it would appear the Chinese government doesn’t have much interest in approaching Twitter to target content it doesn’t like. China has a particular problem with Twitter, but it is a problem they take up with Chinese citizens themselves.
The case of one 50-year-old software engineer, details one of their prefered methods. In November, state security officials came to his office. They had a request, delete these tweets, the officials said. They handed the engineer a printout of 60 tweets he had posted to his 48,000 followers. He said he wouldn’t delete his tweets. The tweets ranged from US-China trade relations to the plight of Christians in his province.
When he hadn’t complied in 24 hours, his Twitter account @hesuoge was hacked and its entire history of 11,000 tweets was deleted.
More than 40 in-person visits like this have been reported involving demands for people to delete tweets, which is probably a small fraction of the amount of visits that have actually taken place.
Some activists have been detained and picked up off of the street. One activist reported that he had his hands and feet shackled during an interrogation before finally signing an agreement to stay off Twitter. The ordeal lasted eight hours.
A financial commentator from Beijing said police came to his home to warn about his tweets.
Authorities visited the home of Ye Du, a writer and supporter of the Liu Xiaobo, to deliver him a printout of more than 800 tweets he needed to delete.
All 30,000 tweets from the account of Wu Gan, an imprisoned activist, were deleted in November.