A Reuters study has found that Twitter has been making major advertisement revenue from Chinese local governments.
The British news agency made its conclusions by probing 36 publicly available local government tenders, budget documents from 2020 to 2022, and social media accounts.
While mainlanders are strictly prohibited from accessing the popular social media platform, the report shows that local governments and offices for Chinese Communist Party propaganda have a big interest in buying its ads.
The local governments’ accounts even sought blue-tick verifications.
A Reuters article stated, “The buying of ads on Twitter by state-affiliated entities has come as Chinese police have increased arrests of citizens who have found ways to use the platform to criticize authorities.”
Twitter has outlawed political and state-media advertising since 2019. But it retained an exception for ads solely dedicated to entertainment, sports, and travel content until March this year.
However, the article went on to say, “Still, Reuters found dozens of ads for Chinese local governments, as well as for state media themselves, published on Twitter since March.”
The publication claims from unnamed individuals that dealings with China have become a source of internal conflict on Twitter. Some backed the intriguing sales potential, others worried about the risks of tampering with state-affiliated firms at a time of escalating tension between the Chinese Communist Party and Washington.
The sources said because of heated disagreements, Twitter’s plan for the first sales office in mainland China was scrapped in 2019.
According to two people with direct knowledge of the situation, Twitter’s sales staff in China actively courted local governments there. It was a worldwide effort to compete with internet rivals like Alphabet’s Google and Meta’s Facebook for advertising revenue.
Other major buyers of Twitter ads include gaming, e-commerce, and tech firms from the country. The sources disclosed that they make up the bulk of hundreds of millions of dollars in international ad revenue for Twitter.