Laws are meant to be broken, including, apparently, the one banning Facebook in China, as research firm GlobalWebIndex reported that Facebook users in the country have skyrocketed from 7.9 million in July 2009 to 63.52 million as of the second quarter of 2012.
According to GlobalWebIndex, Twitter, which is also banned in China, has seen its users grow from 11.8 million to 35 million during the same time period.
GlobalWebIndex said it conducted seven waves of research in China, via self-completion surveys in Mandarin, asking questions including:
- On which of the following services have you created an account?
- On which of the following services have you used or contributed last month?
The research firm offered its explanation of how Internet users in China are skirting the ban on Facebook and Twitter:
We routinely come across the argument that these sites are blocked in China, and, therefore, our figures cannot possibly be correct. However, it only takes a little bit of desk research to discover that what is called the “Great Firewall” is actually much more porous than the Chinese government would like to admit. On closer inspection, Chinese users are using VPNs (virtual private networks), VCNs (virtual cloud networks), or connections at work that may be routed internationally. Crucially, this means that users won’t be picked up in analytics and will not register as being in a Chinese location at all.
Also Chinese users are the most active mobile Internet users on the planet with 78 percent of Internet users also accessing by mobile in the last month. This compares to the U.K. at 55 percent, Japan at 49 percent, and the U.S. at 38 percent. Mobile connections and applications have also made it easier to access both Facebook and Twitter. Our Asian market experts routinely see examples of this such as the recent discovery that if someone downloads the Flipboard app, they can access Twitter, as this story outlines.
Readers: Are you surprised so many people in China are accessing Facebook and Twitter despite the country’s ban on those social networks?
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