When Twitter filed for an IPO last year, one interesting point that came up was the subject of China, where Twitter.com and its services have been blocked by the government since 2009. After all, it said it expected to face challenges in entering some markets such as China, suggesting that Twitter could be considering doing so.
Now Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is making his first visit to China (as first confirmed by Reuters) — a huge hint that the company could finally be taking steps to enter the market. Costolo is scheduled to land in Shanghai on Monday and will spend three days there, without making a stop in Beijing. His plans include meeting Shanghai government officials and university administrators.
However, a Twitter spokesperson tells TNW that Costolo is visiting China to learn more about the country, and the company isn’t intending to make any changes in order to move into the market.
Dick is visiting China because he wants to learn more about the Chinese culture and the country’s thriving technology sector. We have no plans to change anything about our service in order to enter the market.
Indeed, we noted previously that entry to China seems unlikely, given the amount of censorship present in the country.
Chinese authorities take social media content very seriously, using a range of draconian initiatives to bring some semblance of accountability to social networks and users, as it seeks to prevent politically controversial content from cropping up on such sites. ‘China’s Twitter’ Sina Weibo is complicit in much of the censorship — but the likelihood of Twitter kowtowing to these demands and making changes to its service accordingly is low, given that it has long fought to hold governments to account.
Yet with Costolo making a visit to China, there is no doubt that it will fan speculation regarding Twitter’s plans for the country. Twitter does look to have filled the “Head of Media Partnerships – Greater China” role that was advertised late last year — a role focused around recruiting high-profile individuals and valuable content partners to boost Twitter’s presence in China.
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