Just last night, I called bullshit on US bloggers. Several self-proclaimed news sites reported on this same story about China launching a “Communist Twitter”. For some strange reason, not a single one of these sites (Engadget included, which posted another pointless replica today) included a link to the site in question.
That left me wondering if this supposed “Red Microblog” truly existed. Well, after more and more research, enlisting the help of the China subreddit, I finally achieved my goal of finding this elusive propaganda machine.
Here is the link everyone’s been looking for: http://h.cqnews.net/ (Update: Site has been removed)
The frustrating thing about this is that these “journalists” didn’t do their job. They dropped the ball big time. They all reported on the same story using each other as sources and didn’t bother researching enough to find the website they were reporting on.
Had they found the website, they could have reported the truth!
As it turns out, this is not a “Communist Twitter”. From my understanding, it’s more of a state-sponsored mash-up site. The site relies on Bula, an actual Chinese Twitter. The website’s purpose is to use Bula to promote the Party and State.
You can check it out for yourself and see what it is. If you have any understanding of Chinese, then you’ll probably be better at it than me. It seems that in the middle area, you get a feed of patriotic and/or inspirational “Bula tweets”. Then, at the top, you see a lot of users. These are people on Bula, but are probably specific accounts that are somehow part of this Red Microblog site of the Chongqing government.
The site is not, as these US blogs have been reporting, a microblogging platform. It isn’t even a way of collecting information on or monitoring Chinese citizens. It would more accurately be described as the government’s social media liaison site. Imagine if there was a site that gathered and displayed the tweets from several prominent Republicans on Twitter. Would you call that a Conservative Twitter? No. You might call it pointless, though.
And that’s what this Red Microblog really is. It’s a pointless public-facing website created by a municipal bureaucracy that probably won’t have much of a public to face with. The real people are on actual Twitter clones like Bula, Fanfou and Sina.
Oh, I’m one of those real people, by the way.