Twitter Stops Ads from Chinese State Media After Backlash

OMSK, RUSSIA - AUGUST 5, 2016: China's serviceman carries a Chinese flag during the openin
Sergei Bobylev\TASS via Getty Images

Shortly after receiving criticism for allowing Chinese-government run state media to advertise on its platform, Twitter has banned all state-controlled media outlets from advertising.

TechCrunch reports that Twitter has chosen to block all state-run media outlets from advertising on the site following criticism for allowing China Xinhua News, a state-run media outlet, to smear Hong Kong protesters via promoted tweets. From Breitbart News’ recent article this week:

Twitter is currently facing criticism for allowing promoted tweet advertising by China’s largest state news agency. The promoted tweets aim to smear pro-democracy demonstrations by protesters in Hong Kong as violent even though recently rallies which have drawn as many as 1.7 million people have been reported as largely peaceful by international media.

Promoted tweet ads from China Xinhua News, an agency run by the Chinese Communist Party, were shared by the Twitter account Pinboard, a bookmarking service founded by Maciej Ceglowski. Twitter is blacklisted by the Chinese communist government, completely blocked by the “Great Chinese Firewall.”

Protests in Hong Kong began in March in opposition to a now-suspended extradition bill but have since expanded to include a number of other demands. These include the release of imprisoned protesters, investigations into the actions of police officers, the full resignation of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam and a more democratic election process for members of the Legislative Council and Chief Executive.

China Xinhua News has repeatedly described protesters as violent while international observers reporting on the demonstrations have criticized the Hong Kong police force for excessive use of force against peaceful protesters. Amnesty International even published footage showing a high level of violence used by police against peaceful protesters.

Now, after Twitter appears to have discovered hundreds of accounts linked to China that were part of a concerted effort to “sow political discord” around protest events in Hong Kong, Twitter has chosen to prevent state-funded media enterprises from advertising on the platform. It appears that exceptions will be made for outlets such as the Associated Press, the BBC, PBS, and NPR.

“We believe that there is a difference between engaging in conversation with accounts you choose to follow and the content you see from advertisers in your Twitter experience which may be from accounts you’re not currently following. We have policies for both but we have higher standards for our advertisers,” Twitter said in a statement.

The policy mainly pertains to media outlets which are financially or editorially controlled by the state. Twitter noted that the advertising rules would not apply to outlets that are focused on entertainment, sports or travel.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or email him at


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