hile Facebook may be banned in China, that hasn’t stopped one Chinese media organization from having more followers on the social network than any other news outlet.
Yesterday, CGTN, the international arm of CCTV, China’s state broadcaster, celebrated surpassing 70 million fans on Facebook. That’s more than CNN (30 million fans), Fox News (16 million fans), The New York Times (16 million fans), and the Washington Post (6 million fans) combined. It’s also nearly as many as Taylor Swift (72 million). Watch your back, taytay.
The extraordinary number is actually 46 million more than in May 2016, when Quartz published an article about how Chinese state propaganda outlets were absolutely “crushing it” on Facebook. At that time, three of China’s state-controlled news outlets had more than 18 million Facebook fans, but all were still trailing the BBC’s 29 million likes.
However, in the two years since then, a number of the outlets have added tens of millions of new followers. For posterity, here’s a quick ranking of the pages also featuring the BBC, CNN, and The New York Times for comparison:
- CGTN – 70 million likes
- China Daily – 58 million likes
- China Xinhua News – 53 million likes
- People’s Daily – 47 million likes
- CCTV – 47 million likes
- BBC – 47 million likes
- Global Times – 30 million likes
- CNN – 30 million likes
- China Plus News – 20 million likes
- The New York Times – 16 million likes
While there is certainly a large ethnic Chinese population living outside of China and considerable interest in events in the Middle Kingdom from all corners of the globe, we can’t help but feel a bit suspicious of these numbers. Despite having more than 70 million likes, most of CGTN’s Facebook posts receive only a few hundred reactions, dozens of shares, and just a few comments.
For instance, its post celebrating reaching 70 million likes has only 500 reactions, 18 shares, and about 50 comments, the most popular of which reads: “Can you recommend me which app VPN work well en China?”