Tens of millions of users in China are circumventing the country's infamous web filters in order to access social networks.
Research firm GlobalWebIndex said in a recent study on traffic patterns in mainland China that citizens routinely bypass government censorship tools in order to access sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
While local, government-approved social networking services were by far the most popular destinations, the study estimates that some 63.52 million users in China accessed Facebook last month, while another 35.47 million said that they had accessed Twitter.
"We routinely come across the argument that these sites are blocked in China, and therefore, our figures cannot possibly be correct," the company said.
"However, it only takes a little bit of desk research to discover that what is called the 'Great Firewall' is actually much more porous than the Chinese government would like to admit."
The study found that other services, including LinkedIn, Tumblr and Pinterest were also popular in mainland China, with each service drawing upwards of 10 million users last month.
Even with the strict government controls in place, China has been cited as huge potential market for IT vendors and social networking firms. The country was recently crowned as the world's top market for smartphones and researchers estimate that more than a half billion people in mainland China are now online.
China has also, however, drawn the ire of many firms for its stances on software piracy and alleged ties to corporate espionage and hacking operations.
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