Could Twitter be actively trying to break into the Chinese market? Well, a trip by Twitter CEO Dick Costolo to the county has sparked a wave of speculation about the future of Twitter in the county and whether one day the social media network may be able to access the some 600 million internet users in the country.
It has not been possible to access Twitter in China since it was blocked back in 2009 but it is being reported that the Twitter CEO is planning to visit various government officials in Shanghai, including representatives of the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone.
While the visit of Dick Costolo to China may have business undertones it is being stated by Twitter that the trip to China, his first ever, is a personal one.
A spokesman for Twitter told Reuters: “Dick is visiting China because he wants to learn more about the Chinese culture and the country’s thriving technology sector.”
It is not expected that he has gone over to the country to lift the ban on Twitter but is would be strange if he wasn’t following in the footsteps of other social media giants such as Facebook who have been open about their desire to tap into the potentially very lucrative market in China.
Operating in China is largely dependent on being given the go ahead by the Chinese government and then following their guidelines. Google famously pulled out of China in 2010 because they were unwilling to allow for the censorship of the internet that was being requested by China.
Dick Costolo may have declared that he is on a personal trip but he had previously stated to the American Society of News Editors that he would “love to be able to run Twitter as twitter in China” but he added “we are not going to sacrifice the principles of the platform and the way we think users should be able to communicate in order to do so.”
Although twitter is banned officially in China there are reports of a number of people using the social media network to communicate in the country anyway. Numbers for the Chinese users on Titte are difficult to obtain but analysis of the tweets written last year by Gnip, found that only 0.05 percent of all the tweets written were in Chinese which would suggest that the number of users is still very low thanks to the ban.
There are some famous examples though of Chinese Twitter accounts including the artist Ai Weiwei who has more than 280,000 followers and the official Chinese Central Television and the Global Times Newspaper also have accounts.