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“If what people are saying matters, other people will tune in and join the conversation. If the Chinese government’s message doesn’t matter to people, they won’t tune in, and the government-sponsored tweets won’t get any traction.”

Ms. Martin recalled how Twitter helped humanitarian efforts after the Great Japan Earthquake in 2011, and how she used her reach and influence with 1.2 million followers to promote relevant tweets and links, and increase their circulation and attention.

“With the help of people from all over the world, I was able to share translations, dial out codes, maps of surrounding regions and maps of where the tsunami would hit next,” she said.

“Some people were even trapped and tweeting for help. Just as a small community bands together in the face of local devastation, Twitter brought the global community together.”

Traditional news covered the disaster but “were not in the social space like millions of others that night,” she said.

“With access to millions, their Twitter accounts sat silent, despite the fact that their Twitter bios read: We provide breaking world news,” Ms. Martin said.

“It was clear that night that ratings were more important. That night, a greater sense of purpose had been integrated seamlessly into a world I was already passionate about. I realized that social media can be powerful force for good in the world and that acts of kindness can be scaled globally.”