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China papers attack Twitter and Facebook for shutting accounts

Beijing

TWITTER Inc and Facebook Inc's move to close accounts that the companies said were backed by China and attempting to manipulate news about the protests in Hong Kong drew swift backlash from Chinese state media and Internet users.

The Communist Party's Global Times and People's Daily newspapers, as well as the state-run China Daily called the crackdown a "double-standard" in editorials published late on Tuesday. "This is a full display of a double-standard in action: saying one thing while doing another," the People's Daily said. "They suppressed Chinese netizens' voices, but can't suppress people's motivation to reveal the truth."

Twitter and Facebook have claimed the deactivated accounts were all operated by the Chinese government, but they have given no "credible evidence" of their claims, Global Times wrote. "In addition, as Chinese government is so big, there are numerous links between the public opinion institutions and the government, but a large number of media also have a strong market orientation."

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The removal of accounts also drew the ire of Chinese social media users. A post questioning Facebook and Twitter's motives by a blogger using the moniker Yuanmuqingfang was viewed more than 95,000 times on Wechat, the country's most popular messaging platform.

"How do they confirm the government-linked backgrounds of these accounts, by guessing? Even if they are linked, do they have no right to speak?" the blogger asked. "Freedom of speech should mean that as long as you don't break the law, anyone has the right to say anything, including the government itself."

A Weibo user called SpaceMusic said his Facebook account had been shut down. "When we don't go there, they mock us for having no freedom; when we go there and state our stance, they accuse us being instigated by the government and shut us down."

The China Daily article ends by suggesting the two firms reflect on "their inglorious record of being accomplices of the US government in inciting revolutions" around the world. BLOOMBERG