A Guide to the Internet in China: Weibo

Weibo literally translates into “micro-blog”. (weibo.com)
Weibo literally translates into “micro-blog”. (weibo.com)

 

• Name: Weibo
• American Counterpart: Twitter
• Launched: 2009
• Users: 500 million
• Value: $5.1 billion

Weibo has emerged as the most popular microblogging service in China. Microblogging subscribers broadcast short messages to other subscribers. It has become a popular desktop forum for those living in China, where it serves as a place to engage with brands and celebrities and, at least initially, to share pieces of news not censored by the government such as the Wenzhou high speed rail crash.

Weibo claims to have 130 million active users, although one study at the University of Hong Kong suggests that most of the site’s content is generated by a small minority of users. In fact, just  4.8% of the over 12 thousand users sampled contributed to more than 80% of the blog’s original posts.

Weibo filed for its initial public offering (IPO) on Nasdaq in 2014 and is currently trading under the symbol WB. In a sign of flagging enthusiasm, growth in site activity has been flat to down since late 2011. This is especially baffling considering that China’s internet is still growing at around 10% annually over the same period. Whether the slowdown in user growth of Weibo was caused by government censorship or the rise of mobile social app competitor WeChat is a topic of debate among China’s tech watchers.

 

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