Chinese Characters (140 of Them)

On today’s “Morning Edition,” NPR’s Andrew Kuhn takes a look at Twitter’s usage in China. It’s a look predicated on a question: why the violence that erupted earlier this month between ethnic-minority Uighurs and majority Han in Xinjiang province didn’t seem to involve social media in the same way that the Iranian protests have. The primary answer to that question, per Kuhn’s report? “Twitter has no Chinese interface, and users have to message the U.K. to post an entry.”

Xinhua, China’s government-run news agency, “reported on the violence within hours, considerably faster than it used to report on similar incidents,” Kuhn noted.

By the following morning, the government had cut all Internet service in Xinjiang province, with the notable exception of a press center for foreign and domestic journalists. The government said it was trying to prevent criminals and rioters from using the Internet to organize.

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.