Is Twitter a Human Right? One Chinese Activist Thinks So
“Twitter is the people’s tool, the tool of the ordinary people, people who have no other resources,” Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei said at the Paley Center for Media in New York Monday night, after challenging Twitter founder Jack Dorseyto make Twitter’s web interface available in Chinese… Ai Weiwei pressed Dorsey for a commitment to open Twitter to Chinese language translators, saying: “I need a clear answer, yes or no.”
Dorsey, who was participating via screen from San Francisco, clearly felt the pressure, but cautioned that, while Twitter’s goal was “end to end translation in every language,” it would take time.
“The Chinese people think you are some kind of god,” Ai Weiwei told Dorsey. “You created a possibility for people in this very dark room to see a ray of light… to freely give their opinion.” If Twitter were to create a Chinese language interface, he suggested, Dorsey would become “one of the most important heroes in Chinese political development.”
Saying he spent a minimum of 8 hours a day on Twitter, Ai Weiwei said that Twitter was well suited to a language where each character is an entire word. “With 140 characters in Chinese you really can write a novel,” he quipped…Ai Weiwei described the disappointment Chinese activists felt during Barack Obama’s recent trip to China, not only about his avoidance of Human Rights issues, but also because he made a point of saying that he had never used Twitter. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, drew praise however, for her strong stance on Internet Freedom.
See also this past CDT post featuring a video of the discussion.
On CNN, Christiane Amanpour interviewed Ai Weiwei about Twitter and other social media in China:
A podcast of the discussion is here.