Social media platform Twitter has been officially blocked in China since 2009, but that has not stopped locals from gaining access to the service.
Twitter has been looking to grow its global userbase, and the ban on the service in China has seriously hampered this goal. However, there is still a significant presence in the country of Twitter users who are accessing the platform despite the government's censorship.
It was previously estimated that there are as many as 35.5 million Twitter users in China, but the actual figure appears to be much lower than that. According to an anonymous source from Twitter who talked to TechCrunch, there are 10 million users of the service in the Asian country.
The number, however, is said to be nothing more than an estimate, with Twitter not even sure how many of its users are actually from China. This is because it is difficult for the company to check for the number of monthly active users from the country, given the method through which they are able to access Twitter.
For Chinese users to be able to do that, they have to use a virtual private network, or a VPN. It allows users to utilize internet connections from outside the country, which allows them to bypass the censorship system implemented by the government.
The trouble with monitoring Chinese users is the fact that users on VPN will be shown as located from the country where the network being accessed is located. Chinese users accessing Twitter on a VPN will be shown as coming from the United States, the United Kingdom, or wherever the VPN is based, and not from China.
The 10 million figure for Chinese users on Twitter is small, especially compared to the 1.4 billion population of the Asian country and the total 310 million monthly active users worldwide. Of all these, 21 percent come from the U.S.
This does not mean that Twitter is not making money in China though, as Chinese companies, including the government-operated media outlets, are still paying for advertisements and content distribution on the platform to be able to reach a global audience.
In addition to Twitter, China has also blocked popular websites such as Google, Facebook, Blogger and WordPress in the country. One of the most recent addition to the list of censored websites in the country is Medium, which was banned in April most likely in connection with the Panama Papers scandal.