Twitter Inc. tries to move mountains to allow Iranian dissidents to express themselves, but when a Chinese woman is sent to a labor camp for a three-word tweet, the company doesn't seem to have much to say.
A bastion of democratic, online communication in 140 characters, Twitter is used by activists, organizers and dissidents everywhere from Britian, Canada and the US to Iran, Sudan and North Korea. The microblogging site has played a major role in revolts, riots and resistance over the past few years, from the green revolution in Iran to the riots in Tunisia in January, 2011.
But after a Chinese woman was arrested for a sarcastic tweet about anti-Japanese protests in China, for more than six weeks Twitter Inc. has not 140, not 130, not even 10 words to say about it.
Cheng Jianping hopped on Twitter on October 17 to send a sarcastic tweet about anti-Japanese protests. "Angry youth, charge!" she joked in a retweet.
Those three words got her one year of "Reeducation-Through-Labor" after police found her 'guilty of tweeting' (formal charge: "disturbing social order") on what was supposed to be her wedding day. There was no trial.
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo did tweet initially tweet about the case: "Dear Chinese Government, year-long detentions for sending a sarcastic tweet are neither the way forward nor the future of your great people."
But Twitter Inc. has done absolutely nothing since. Contrast that with what could almost be termed 'corporate activism' as the Iranian green movement rose following the country's disputed 2009 presidential elections.
In a letter to the Twitter CEO, Cheng Jianping's lawyers Lan Zhixue and Teng Biao call on Costolo to take legal action to protest this infringement of Twitter's lawful business activities, and to use the company's "international influence" to call for her release.
Support their call for action, and demand that Twitter Inc. actively advocate for Cheng Jianping's release.