“We want to protect healthy discourse and open conversation,” Twitter said in a statement posted on its website.
Twitter said the new policy would only apply to “news media entities that are either financially or editorially controlled by the state.” While state media cannot pay for advertisements that would amplify their message, they will be allowed to continue posting on the platform. Twitter said the new restrictions do not apply to outlets funded by taxpayers, or independent public broadcasters.
Beijing responded on Tuesday. Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters that “people will have their own judgments about what is happening in Hong Kong, and what the truth is.”
“I think it is reasonable that Chinese media use overseas social media to communicate with local people, to tell stories about China, to introduce Chinese policies,” he said.
An account that was titled “Dream News” tweeted about the demonstrators, “We don’t want you radical people in Hong Kong. Just get out of here!”
The accounts posted in multiple languages and at least some of them appeared to target American audiences. One account, that was set up more than 10 years ago, said in its Twitter bio, “Conservative News from the USA and Abroad. #Catholic Defender of the Constitution of the United States.” The account claimed to support President Donald Trump.
Other accounts also purported to be operated by people in the United States, listing locations like Chicago and Long Beach, California.
The Facebook pages were followed by about 15,000 accounts, the company said.
China, of course, is not alone in using social media to spread unrest. Covert campaigns have been tied to Russia and Iran, among other countries.
-— Joshua Berlinger, Steven Jiang and Nanlin Fang contributed to this report.
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