Twitter finds itself in hot water again Monday after it was caught running ads which were critical of peaceful protests in Hong Kong on behalf of the brutal Communist Chinese regime in Beijing.
“Pinboard and other users have observed Twitter running ads from China’s state-backed media outlet Xinhua attacking the Hong Kong protesters opposed to both a (since-suspended) extradition bill and broader dissatisfaction with the government,” according to a report in Engadget. “The ads try to portray the protests as ‘escalating violence’ and calls for ‘order to be restored.’”
Pinboard is a news feed, and it posted the following Tweet criticizing the Chinese state-run media as “propaganda,” and attaching a screenshot of a Tweet from Xinhua.
“Two months on, the escalating violence in Hong Kong has taken a heavy toll on the social order,” the Chinese paper said. “All walks of life in Hong Kong called for a brake to be put on the blatant violence and for order to be restored.”
But there have been very few reports of violence from international press, who have been watching the scene in Hong Kong unfold very closely. Outside of a few skirmishes with police during an airport standoff eight days ago, the protestors – nearing 1.7 million in numbers – have been peaceful. It’s actually a truly amazing feat.
“I just came home from a completely peaceful march where possibly a million Hong Kong residents came out, with no police in sight, to call for basic democratic rights,” Pinboard said later. “What greets me is straight up lies from Xinhua about ‘bands of thugs,’ courtesy of Twitter advertising.”
For its part, the regime in Beijing has blocked Twitter in Hong Kong and some other regions, which disallows users from accessing the site. Not only is China propagandizing citizens outside of Hong Kong, but it is blocking the spread of information inside Hong Kong, both to the detriment of the protestors.
Twitter is complicit in both of these actions by the Chinese.
But this behavior is not totally unexpected from Silicon Valley. In fact, Silicon Valley titan Google had a contract with the Communist Chinese for a project called Dragonfly, which is a censored version of the internet search engine. It reportedly worked with the Chinese to block search terms like “human rights.”
After public outcry, the company said that it shut the project down. Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company has “no plans” to launch the censored search engine “right now.”
However, not all employees believe that the company has disengaged from the project.