Chinese Social Media: Microblogs

As Facebook and Twitter are censored , in China, it gets its own version of Chinese social media which are known as Ren Ren, Sina WeiBo(microblog),etc.

(literally means “everyone”, it is majorly used by college students in mainland, a Facebook-like service)

And the language frequently used in these platforms are mandarin, An Xiao Mina points out the language used in these sites are mandarin, but the the number of English speakers is steadily growing. Many Chinese people from overseas, they’d like to use WeiBo rather than Twitter for the reason that the WeiBo is more familiar to them.

(Sina WeiBo)

But it is not to say if you don’t know how to write in mandarin, it is useless to use WeiBo. Microblogs like Sina WeiBo has already got its Iphone APP version in English . Meanwhile many writers in WeiBo also post in purely English or double language version ( Mandarin and English). For example , two prestigious microbloggers in WeiBo are  Tom Cruise and Bill Gates. For Cruise, he has already attracted 1.8 million fans , making him probably the first western film stars to achieve  1 million goal.  And with the growing of massive online citizens in China, the WeiBo’s effect  is influential, to get the information “connected” to the huge market of China.

Censorship

However, there is still heavy censorship around the WeiBo sphere. Many alleged ” sensitive words” are censored by the key word protection system, with the help of Great Firewall and online police (Cyber police).

(Chinese Cyber police)

Some severe political issues are always blocked and censored through the main Web portals (like Sina, 163, QQ,etc. These are major web portals in mainland, like Sina, its click rate is even more than 100 million one day). These issues are always prohibited to post in the main pages, even some are posted, they can not be commented or the comment is led by the “five-cent party”(commentators  who are paid by the government to lead the public opinion). Sometimes, the issue is also being over represented, but the tactic is not so sophisticated that it makes people confused and hard to find the resources toward the “truth”. At the current stage, it is hard to say the microblogs in China serve as a public sphere, but the progress is gradually taking place ( Like there is an online call for Jasmine revolution through WeiBo for democratic process.)By the way, the notion  “dictator’s dilemma”  of censorship can also be raised here. On the one side, Internet is good for economic growth ,entertainment and infotainment; on the other side, it also fosters the activists groups. As Ethan Zuckerman quotes, there is no divide of  economic Internet, social internet, and apolitical internet,  Internet is just Internet. It is not so easy to just release the Internet out of control or solo  implement severe censoring mechanism. At last to quote an old saying from my own cultural background ” folks should not talk about politics”, and the state is so powerful  that make the  democracy in China a long way to go.

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