Hong Kong - Radiohead
has taken a tentative step into censored Chinese cyberspace, even though the British rock band has been critical of China's human rights record.
Radiohead recently launched a page on the "weibo" site of leading Chinese internet portal Sina.com. "Weibo," which translates as "microblog," is the Chinese-equivalent of Twitter.
But the band has only posted a single message on Friday. It says "testing the weibo."
Sina.com checks the authenticity of celebrity weibos and has certified the Radiohead weibo as genuine.
The move comes despite Radiohead's activism against Chinese government policies. The rock group has performed at Free Tibet concerts and in December, posted a note on its official website urging fans to campaign for the release of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year. "You know it makes sense," the band said.
Such comments will be unthinkable on Radiohead's Sina microblog. The Chinese government screens Internet content for material it deems politically sensitive, such as calls for greater autonomy in Tibet and commentary on the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Foreign social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are blocked.
Microblogs are required to delete questionable posts. Sina CEO Charles Chao told Forbes magazine in March that its weibo has at least 100 employees monitoring content 24 hours a day.
In a recent example of suspected celebrity censorship, Hong Kong actress-singer Gigi Leung last year removed an excerpt from a news story about a Chinese activist's court case from her Sina weibo account. Fans believe Leung was muzzled but her agent said she removed the story herself after some of her followers left messages saying they were upset by the story.
Radiohead's testing of the weibo platform highlights the dilemma facing foreign acts eager to tap the massive potential of the Chinese market because they must be willing to subject themselves to some degree of censorship.