On Tuesday, China said it had a right to submit its views after Twitter and Facebook said they had dismantled a state-backed social media campaign originating in mainland China that sought to undermine protests in Hong Kong.
On Monday, however, Twitter said it had suspended 936 accounts and the operations appeared to be a coordinated effort backed by the state of Chinese origin.
Facebook Inc. said it had removed accounts and sites from a small network following a suggestion from Twitter. Facebook said its investigation found links to individuals linked to the Chinese government.
To make their voices heard about the Hong Kong protests, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang declined to comment directly on the actions on Twitter and Facebook, but defended the right of the Chinese people and media.
Chinese and foreign students “naturally have the right to express their view,” he told a daily news conference.
He added that “Something is happening in Hong Kong and what is the truth, people will naturally have their own judgment. Why is the official media presentation of China certainly negative or wrong?”
Twitter said Monday it would no longer accept ads from state-controlled media, and told Reuters the change was not linked to suspended accounts. Twitter and Facebook have come under fire from users for showing ads from state-controlled media that criticized Hong Kong protesters.
Twitter and Facebook are blocked by the Chinese government for use on the mainland, but are easily accessible in Hong Kong, where protests since June have plunged Chinese-run territory into its most serious crisis in decades.
Geng said that “Chinese media use foreign social media to communicate with people around the world to introduce them to Chinese policies and” tell the story of China “.
“I don’t know why the reaction of some companies or people is so strong,” he added.
The Hong Kong protests represent one of the biggest challenges for Chinese President Xi Jinping since coming to power in 2012.
They began in opposition to a now-suspended bill that would allow suspects to be sent to the mainland for trial in the courts controlled by the Communist Party, but have since moved to wider calls for democracy.
Social media companies globally are under pressure to thwart illegal political influence campaigns online, especially ahead of the US presidential election in November 2020.