Remember that bizarre kerfuffle over the dubious stats showing that China had tens of millions of Twitter users (the one on which we called bullshit)? Well, now there’s a much more plausible study of China-based Twitter users that suggests there are fewer than 20,000 of these rare birds in the country.
With Twitter fully blocked in the country since June 2009 – and authorities recently ramping up pressure on those who try to evade the so-called Great Firewall – it’s little surprise that Twitter’s usage is seriously limited. The tiny number was gleaned by a Chinese programmer – @ooof on Twitter – who analyzed all tweets in Chinese posted around the world at one point in time. He explained to the South China Morning Post that he then divided all those Chinese-language posts by time-zones and then did his best to split them up by region using Twiyia.com for help. In his rough infographic, “Beijing” refers to all the Twitter users in the Beijing time zone – a mere 18,164, to be precise – he believes are in mainland China:
It’s not an ideal study, but it seems like a better snapshot than the erroneous extrapolation that last year claimed a huge tally of 35 million on Twitter in the restrictive country. It’s worth noting that this new count excludes posts in other languages and those who had no location information. Plus there’s the issue of the huge number attributed to Alaska, which the programmer clarified to the Hong Kong paper:
@ooof said the location information which twiyia.com collected were the time zones Twitter users had chosen – not the cities they said they lived in. Those who chose Alaska were probably people living on the west coast of North America, he explained.
For more fun graphics like this one, check out previous entries in our infographic series.