This article should help you to understand what Weibo is, who uses it and how popular it is. We also explain here more about the role of Weibo in China.
What is Weibo?
Weibo is the Chinese word for micro-blogging; it is also the name of the website. Weibo is one of the most popular sites in China and is very similar to Twitter. Basically, it offers blogging services and is a platform for sharing and chatting.
The only real difference between Weibo and Twitter is that the first is mostly used by Chinese speakers while Twitter is used by almost everyone around the world. Weibo works in a way that users are not only able to chat and upload but also to share and update information.
Another minor difference between Weibo and Twitter is that Twitter has a 140 Latin-alphabet character limit while Weibo can accommodate over 140 Chinese characters. This means much more information can be shared than in English.
With Twitter and Facebook, you follow someone and are followed back. This does not need to happen with Weibo; you don’t need to be followed be a person to read their posts.
This is the most visited social site in China, and 100 million users post via the site every day. It has operated from the domain name Weibo.com since March 2011. The company decided to switch to this domain name because Weibo had gained popularity in a little known domain name (t.sina.com.cn). These days Weibo is also known by the name of Sina Weibo. Apart from Sina Weibo, Weibo has some other names: Wei Boke and Weixing Boke. These are affiliated names and are all based in China.
The importance of Weibo
The frequent slow rate at which information was previously passed between people in China created the demand for a platform through which people could share, and pass on, information and news. A lack of rapid information transfer from one point to the other may be one of the factors that led to the Wenzhou train collision. The disaster resulted in the death of 40 people, and highlighted the need for a social platform that Chinese people could use to get information very quickly.
Weibo plays a very important role in China as a country. It helps the people of China to easily access important information. They are also able to pass information on from one point to the other. In the case of emergencies, they can be well informed through the social media platform of Weibo.
Who uses Weibo?
Weibo has a fan base of over 30 percent of the world’s internet users, which makes it one of the most used social sites in the world today. Its market penetration can only be compared to Twitter’s, the US social site, which has a significant number of users and visitors.
After only three years in operation, after its initial launch in 2009, Weibo already had a a massive 503 million registered users.
One of the tactics applied after the launch of Weibo to attract users was to have popular artists advertise the site. This appeared a successful strategy, particularly as Facebook and Twitter were blocked for access in China. Naturally Weibo gained popularity and established a strong fan base.
Free speech and censorship
Because of the censorship of the internet in China, most services offered by Weibo are controlled by a group of censorship and policies aimed at controlling what people post. They operate according to a list of keywords that are blacklisted. Administrators also read through posts to ensure they are all acceptable; if they are not then they are deleted within a day.
Nevertheless, Weibo is often thought of as a free speech platform. The site was used a lot during the Wenzhou train collision to highlight corruption in the government.
The big users
Weibo plays a significant role in the China of today. It is used by both international and local companies to advertise their products to a captive audience. This is one of the main causes for the rapid economic growth China is experiencing. Weibo is also an important source of news for China’s citizens.
While some of the celebrities in the west have huge numbers of followers, Weibo’s celebs have more. The US president Barrack Obama has around 70 million followers, but Chinese celebrities are followed by a constant 80 million. Of course, it could be a population thing…
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