Facebook, which added its billionth user on Thursday, has reportedly increased its number of Chinese users by a factor of eight in the past two years, despite the social network supposedly being inaccessible from the Chinese mainland.
Want China Times:
Facebook now has around 63.5 million users in China as of the second quarter this year. Twitter, which has also been blocked by Beijing, also saw its Chinese user number triple over the past three years to reach 35 million.
The growth has exceeded many people’s expectations, although still comparably smaller than popular Chinese microblogs such as Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo, which boasts 200 million users each.
Update #1: Despite many in the media (including us) leaping on the 63m figure in order to be smug about how censorship doesn’t work and so on; Rick Martin over at Tech In Asia already thoroughly debunked these numbers when they first came out a week ago.
Martin highlights a 2010 Berkman Centre report on the use of tools to circumvent the Great Firewall, which came up with a “generous” estimate of 3% of Chinese web users who leap the wall but that the “actual number is likely far less”.
So perhaps considering that this is now two years later, we could be generous again that say that “far less than three percent” has now reached three percent. And if we are again generous and assume that all of those users are using those circumvention tools to use nothing but Twitter, that would mean about 16 million Twitter users. Again, still far less – and that’s being generous.
16 million users for either Twitter or Facebook is long way off the 35 or 63 million claimed by Global Web Index (and carelessly reported by us and numerous other outlets).