After Tesla CEO Elon Musk bought Twitter on Monday, some observers wondered whether China, where the automaker has a major factory and market, would subsequently wield more influence over the platform. social media.
On Friday, Chen Weihua, the head of the EU bureau of a state-controlled media China Daily, called for the removal of the label from his Twitter bio as “Chinese state-affiliated media.” He called it a “suppression of free speech” and said the policy “needs” to be changed.
“Elon Musk should remove my tag. Also, when people want to like or RT my tweets, Twitter now reminds them that ‘this is state-affiliated media.’ ‘expression. Twitter needs to change this policy’, Chen tweeted.
Chen was responding to a tweet from Musk about free speech.
“By ‘freedom of speech’ I just mean what is within the law. I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law. If people want less freedom of speech, they will ask the government to pass laws to that effect. Therefore, going beyond the law is against the will of the people,” Musk wrote.
Twitter policy currently states: “China is blocking access to Twitter for regular users. We believe people benefit from additional context when interacting with Chinese government and state-affiliated accounts. Labels on state-affiliated accounts provide additional context about accounts that are controlled by some of the government officials, state-affiliated media, and people closely associated with these entities.”
Access to the platform in China has been blocked since 2009.
Twitter states that state-affiliated media accounts are “defined as outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressure, and/or control over production and distribution”.
Accounts of these organizations, as well as accounts of “their editors and/or senior staff may be tagged”.
Chen’s biography reads: “China Daily EU Bureau Chief/Columnist. Ex-DC, Chief NY Correspondent. Knight Fellow Stanford, WPI Fellow Macalester, Freedom Forum Fellow UHManoa Views My Own!! “
Chen has been outspoken against the tagging practice for years, calling it “McCarthyism Twitter” in 2020.
“Twitter referred to my personal account as a state-affiliated media account despite my statement that it represents no one but myself. But here, none of the US government’s propaganda media since the Cold War was tagged. This is McCarthyism Twitter.” he tweeted at the time.
In another 2020 post, he called Twitter “fun”, but criticized the labeling as “not only inaccurate with the facts but misleading. That’s discrimination”.
Political scientist Ian Bremmer weighed in on the conversation on Saturday, calling it a “landmine” for Musk. He tweeted, “I can’t imagine Elon wanting to comment on this. It’s a landmine for him politically, but he can’t afford to publicly alienate the Chinese government given his Tesla business model. “
Newsweek contacted Twitter and Chen for comment.