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The great Twitter purge reveals Western bias against China

By Curtis Stone (People's Daily Online)    17:05, July 18, 2018

Recently, the popular social media platform Twitter began removing tens of millions of suspicious and fake accounts in an effort to clean up the site and restore trust, reducing the total follower count on the platform by about 6 percent, according to earlier media reports.

The Twitter purge cost its 100 most popular users about 2 percent of their followers, on average, according to social media data firm Keyhole, Reuters reported.

The purge had an immediate effect. US President Donald Trump and former US President Barack Obama, for instance, lost huge numbers of Twitter followers as the social media company began its promised purge, with Obama losing around 2.3 million followers. The official account of Twitter lost 12.4 percent of its followers, the steepest drop among the top 100, according to the same data.

Also affected were Chinese media outlets, including People’s Daily, the biggest newspaper group in China. People’s Daily has a strong presence on overseas social media, currently with over 4.3 million Twitter followers and over 45.3 million followers on Facebook. However, the purge results were not what many of those who are biased against China had apparently hoped for, turning the great Twitter purge into a great disappointment for some people.

For example, Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, a national security reporter at The Daily Beast, seemed perplexed by the fact that Xinhua News Agency, People’s Daily, and China Daily are still standing strong after the purge, with millions of followers each.

“Twitter deleted many fake accounts today but Xinhua still has 11.5 million followers, People’s Daily still has 4.3 million followers, and China Daily still has 2.3 million followers,” she said in a series of tweets.

This is a slap of face to those who had assumed that Xinhua, People’s Daily, China Daily, and other Chinese media accounts are “fake accounts.” As one user pointed out in response to the tweets, Chinese media are not fake news machines—a label that US President Trump has given his nation’s leading media outlets.

Xinhua, People’s Daily, and China Daily “are not fake news or fake accounts,” a Twitter user responded, adding: “I don’t get the connection.”

“Is that a comment on the culling not being sufficient or more about the surprise at how many actual accounts follow Xinhua [and other Chinese media outlets],” a different Twitter user responded.

Others were surprised, too. Bill Bishop, who writes the Sinocism China Newsletter, wrote on Twitter that it “will be fun” to see how many followers China’s “propaganda organs” lose as a result of the purge. One user responded that People’s Daily and Xinhua are “holding on better than I thought!”

Chinese media outlets have long been accused of purchasing their followers on overseas social media platforms. However, as the Twitter purge revealed, the real surprise is that some people refuse to accept the fact that Chinese media is popular on overseas social media platforms and that Chinese media outlets such as People’s Daily are gaining influence worldwide. Assuming Chinese media are “fake accounts” is just wrong, plain and simple, and it reveals bias against China.

Before his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Donald Trump once again criticized his nation’s leading media outlets, which also have a big presence on major social media platforms such as Twitter. Trump tweeted: “Much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people.”

American media has a long tradition of media bias, and with distrust in US media growing, it is no wonder that news media across the globe are gaining more and more followers.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Bianji, Hongyu)

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