Popularity of Chinese version of Twitter growing in China

Tools

A Twitter-like platform in China has surpassed 400 million registered accounts, generating 150 million posts per day and serving as a "vigorous virtual public square" and "steam valve for discontent" for the world's most populous country, said David Wertime, co-founder and co-editor of Tea Leaf Nation, an English-language online magazine that synthesizes and analyzes Chinese social media.

"It's the closest thing to a free speech platform for debate about the issues of the day in China," said Wertime, who spoke Jan. 22 at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. "It's a platform for breaking news and stories and it provides a window into Chinese attitudes and Chinese life."

Called Weibo, the Chinese word for "microblog," the platform has a number of features that Twitter does not such as an automatic scoring system for comments posted and ad hoc discussions embedded in a tweet, he said.

Athough there is a 140 character limit for both platforms, Wertime argued that because the Chinese language is denser a user of Weibo can communicate a lot more detailed thoughts than their English counterparts on Twitter with the same number of characters.

For more:
- go to a Berkman Center webpage with an archived copy Wertime's talk

Related Articles:
Chinese censorship focuses on collective action, not criticism, says paper
Open Internet debate causes more censorship in China 
Voluntary codes insufficient for limiting U.S. corporate involvement in Chinese Internet censorship, says report