The Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) IPO Thursday was a hotly anticipated event -- even for millions of netizens in China, who can’t even use the social media platform.
Though the Twitter website has been blocked on mainland China since 2009, news of Twitter’s successful IPO was still widely covered by Chinese national media, and Internet users in China took to their Weibo accounts (China’s version of the microblogging platform and the country’s most popular social media site) to crack jokes about the multibillion-dollar “invisible” website.
“A website that can’t even open is now worth $24 billion? It’s a crazy world we’re living in!” one blogger posted, according to the South China Morning Post. “Twitter is like a ghost, because you’ve only heard about it, but no one has ever seen it,” another joked.
While there were jokes aplenty, the conversation unsurprisingly turned into a debate on censorship. Another blogger pointed out that the jokes about Twitter say a lot about China’s immense censorship power. “This is the moment you realize that China is so apart from the rest of the world,” one New York-based Weibo blogger wrote. The post, which drew some 3,000 comments, became a point of argument. “Considering the average American knows very little about the world outside their country, who is really apart?” one blogger wrote in response. “We have our own, better version [of the platform], so how are we set apart?”
How can you say it's better when you're denied having Twitter as a choice, said the first blogger. “Those who say they don’t even like using Twitter are missing the point. How can you be glad when you are deprived of the right in the first place?”
Even though they can't tweet, many Chinese netizens addressed the censorship in a humorous way. Here are more jokes about Twitter’s IPO found on Chinese social media:
“I am calling the police… they are letting a fake website go public.”
“I am worried about the bubbles in the U.S. stock market -- how come a nonexistent website walked away with that kind of money?”
“Wow, do you think I can also make money selling shares in my blank error page?”
On Thursday, the San Francisco-based social media platform saw its stock price soar from the IPO opening of $26 to $44.90, a 73 percent increase, by the end of its first day on the New York Stock Exchange.