Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 28 February 2015

Radiohead try out 'Chinese Twitter'

Radiohead have been testing the waters on the Chinese equivalent of Twitter
Radiohead have been testing the waters on the Chinese equivalent of Twitter

Radiohead have taken a tentative step into censored Chinese cyberspace, even though they have been critical of China's human rights record.

The band recently launched a page on the weibo site of leading Chinese internet portal Sina.com. Weibo, which translates as microblog, is the Chinese-equivalent of Twitter.

But the band has only posted a single message on Friday. It says "testing the weibo".

Sina.com checks the authenticity of celebrity weibos and has certified the Radiohead weibo as genuine.

The move comes despite Radiohead's activism against Chinese government policies. The rock group has performed at Free Tibet concerts and in December, posted a note on its official website urging fans to campaign for the release of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year. "You know it makes sense," the band said.

Such comments will be unthinkable on Radiohead's Sina microblog. The Chinese government screens internet content for material it deems politically sensitive, such as calls for greater autonomy in Tibet and commentary on the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Foreign social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are blocked.

Microblogs are required to delete questionable posts. Sina CEO Charles Chao told Forbes magazine in March that its weibo has at least 100 employees monitoring content 24 hours a day.

Radiohead's appeal in China is clear from the big following its weibo quickly drew. The website now has nearly 49,000 followers and its terse first message has drawn 3,800 comments and already been reposted nearly 10,000 times.

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