Weibo Controls 90% of the Chinese Microblogging Market with 140 million Users After 2 Years
China’s most popular microblogging service Weibo by Sina Corp controls 90% of the Chinese market with 140million domestic users. China’s internet market has over 450 million users and Weibo already has a third of that market on its blogging platform within two years of being in operation.
Sina Weibo recently announced its plan to launch an English language version of the microblogging service targeted at users abroad. Although Sina Weibo did not comment on the countries it plans to target and the time frame of the launch, “the service will be a version of Sina’s Chinese-language Weibo microblog”, said a company spokesman, Mao Taotao.
Based on Sina Weibo’s expansion plans, it would be interesting to see how they deal with the censorship rules of deleting access to material considered politically subversive or pornographic from online content. Although the Chinese government encourages web use for business and education, it operates an incredibly extensive filtering system — an issue that even Google could not overcome which led to the closing of its China offices and leaving the Chinese market in 2010.
“As a Chinese internet company, we will continue to abide by Chinese laws and regulations,” said Mao the spokesperson for Sina. Confirmed by Sina CEO, Charles Chao told Forbes magazine in March that “Weibo has at least 100 employees monitoring content 24 hours a day.”
The recent bullet train collision in Zhejiang highlights an important issue in curbing real-time content censorship. As the Chinese government tried to play down and bury news of the tragedy, the Chinese internet community took to Weibo to express their outrage over the government’s lack of rescue efforts.
According to a Huffington Post interview with a Weibo user, “They think they can control it but we are not stupid,” says a woman who I’ll call Alice. “We see what is happening through [Sina] Weibo.”– Microblog services are clearly hugely popular in China despite extensive government efforts to control content. Within a week of the tragedy, the microblog sphere had over 26 million posts related to the tragedy that was spreading like wildfire.
In the wake of Sina Weibo’s announcement, bi-lingual (English-Chinese) users are already giving Twitter tips on how it can improve and learn from Weibo’s superior microblogging platform which include;
Twitter, launched in 2006 has over 300 million accounts globally and is available in 9 languages with 70% of its traffic coming from outside the United States. Based on the numbers alone, Sina Weibo could stand a very good chance of giving Twitter a good run for its money — It would at least give English-based users a choice between mircoblogging platforms.
Image courtesy of Penn Olson (with modifications by Luanne)
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