WTF?! China’s government is well known for its censorship of the internet and clamping down on those who try to circumvent its rules, but the situation has reportedly escalated recently, with citizens enduring detention, interrogations, and threats just for posting on Twitter.
Twitter is one of many Western websites, including Google, YouTube, and Facebook, that are blocked by China’s so-called Great Firewall, but many residents use VPNs to circumvent the ban.
According to a new report by the New York Times, authorities are cracking down on Twitter users who post messages critical of the country’s government.
The publication spoke to nine Twitter users questioned by police and reviewed a recording of a four-hour long interrogation. It reveals that one user, activist Huang Chengcheng, was chained to a chair and questioned for eight hours. Once his ordeal was over, he had to sign a promise to stay off Twitter.
The Times writes that officers would often print out people’s tweets and advise them to delete specific messages or their entire accounts.
Another case involves Pan Xidian, who posted a comic by a dissident cartoonist on Twitter. He was taken in by police for 20 hours of questioning and forced to delete several posts. But shortly after being released, police dragged him back into custody where he spent two weeks in a cell with ten other people watching propaganda videos.
Only 0.4 percent of China’s internet users are on Twitter, but that still works out at roughly 3.2 million people. The platform is one of the few places where citizens engage in political debate and discussions.
"If we give up Twitter, we are losing one of our last places to speak," said human rights activist Wang Aizhong, who claims 3000 of his tweets were deleted by state-sponsored hackers.
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