Type of site
|microblogging, Chinese Twitter|
|Available in||Simplified Chinese
|Owner||SINA Corporation (operated by Weibo Corporation)|
|Launched||14 August 2009|
|16 (April 2014[update])|
|Literal meaning||Sina Microblog|
Sina Weibo (NASDAQ: WB) is a Chinese microblogging (weibo) website. Akin to a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook, it is one of the most popular sites in China, in use by well over 30% of Internet users, with a market penetration similar to the United States' Twitter. It was launched by SINA Corporation on 14 August 2009, and has 503 million registered users as of December 2012. About 100 million messages are posted each day on Sina Weibo.
In March 2014, Sina Corporation announced a spinoff of Weibo as a separate entity and filed an IPO under the symbol WB. Sina retains 56.9% ownership in Weibo. The company began trading publicly on April 17, 2014.
"Weibo" (微博) is the Chinese word for "microblog". Sina Weibo launched its new domain name weibo.com on 7 April 2011, deactivating and redirecting from the old domain, t.sina.com.cn to the new one. Due to its popularity, the media sometimes directly uses "Weibo" to refer to Sina Weibo. However, there are other Chinese microblogging/weibo services including Tencent Weibo, Sohu Weibo and NetEase Weibo.
After the July 2009 Ürümqi riots, China shut down most of the domestic microblogging services including the first weibo service Fanfou. Many popular non China-based microblogging services like Twitter, Facebook, and Plurk have been blocked from viewing since then. It was considered to be an opportunity to Sina's CEO Charles Chao. SINA Corporation launched the tested version of Sina Weibo on 14 August 2009. Basic functions including message, private message, comment and re-post were made possible in September 2009. A Sina Weibo-compatible API platform for developing third-party applications was launched on 28 July 2010.
On 1 December 2010, the website experienced an outage, administrators later said it was due to the increasing numbers of users and posts. Registered users surpassed 100 million before March 2011. Since 23 March 2011, t.cn has been used as Sina Weibo's official URL shortening domain name in lieu of sinaurl.cn. On 7 April 2011, weibo.com replaced t.sina.com.cn to be the new domain used by the website. Meanwhile, the official logo was also updated. In June, Sina announced an English-language version of Sina Weibo would be developed and launched, where the contents would still be controlled by Chinese law.
On 9 April 2013, Alibaba Group announced that it will acquire 18 percent of Sina Weibo for $586 million with an option to buy up to 30 percent in the future. When SIna Weibo went to Nasdaq, Alibaba executed the option. Now Alibaba owns 32 percent of Sina Weibo.
According to iResearch's report on 30 March 2011, Sina Weibo had 56.5% of China's microblogging market based on active users and 86.6% based on browsing time over competitors such as Tencent Weibo and Baidu's services. The top 100 users had over 485 million followers combined. Furthermore, Sina said that more than 5,000 companies and 2,700 media organizations in China uses Sina Weibo. The site is maintained by a growing microblogging department of 200 employees responsible for technology, design, operations, and marketing.
Sina executives invited and persuaded many Chinese celebrities to join the platform. The users of Sina Weibo include Asian celebrities, movie stars, singers, famous business and media figures, athletes, scholars, artists, organizations, religious figures, government departments and officials from Hong Kong, Mainland China, Malaysia, Taiwan and Macau, as well as some famous Western individuals and organisations, including Kevin Rudd, Boris Johnson, Toshiba, and the German national football team. Like Twitter, Sina Weibo has a verification program for known people and organizations. Once an account is verified, a verification badge is added beside the account name.
Sina Weibo implements many features from Twitter. Users may post with a 140-character limit, mention or talk to other people using "@UserName" format, add hashtags with "#HashName#" format, follow other people to make his/her posts appear in users' own timeline, re-post with "//@UserName" similar to Twitter's retweet function "RT @UserName", put a post into the favorite list, verify the account if the user is a celebrity. URLs are automatically shortened using the domain name t.cn like Twitter's t.co. Official and third-party applications make users able to access Sina Weibo from other websites or platforms.
Additionally, users are allowed to insert graphical emoticons or attach own image, music, video files in every post. Comments to a post can be shown as a list right below the post, the commenter can also choose whether to re-post the comment, quoting the whole original post, to commenter's own page.
Unregistered users can only browse a few posts by verified accounts. Neither unverified account pages nor comments to the posts by verified accounts are accessible to unregistered users.
Sina Weibo has an identification policy. It's like Twitter's verified account which could verify the identity of famous person, organization and so on. Once a user gets through the verification on the internet, a colorful V will be added behind their username. An orange V is for people while a blue one is for organizations and companies. Also there will be a graph and a declaration on its user page to show the verification. There are several kinds of verifications: personal verification, college verification, organization verification, verification for official accounts (accounts of government departments, social media platforms and famous companies) weibo master (people bind the accounts with their phone numbers and their followers). When the number of microblogs reach the threshold, they can apply the verification of "weibo master".
Sina Weibo is available in both simplified and traditional Chinese characters. The site also has versions catering to users from Hong Kong and Taiwan. Weibo is now developing its international version in English and other languages. On January 9, Sina Weibo created a partial English Version, most likely being a test run, but was soon taken down in a week.
For the Chinese version, you must be a Chinese citizen to use it. You will be asked to verify your identity either through a valid Chinese cellphone number or a valid Chinese citizen identification number.
Sina Weibo's official iPhone and iPad application have English language options.
Weilingdi (微领地) is another service bundled with Weibo that is similar to Foursquare, a location-based social networking website based on software for mobile devices, and which grew out of Sina's 2011 joint venture with GeoSentric's GyPSii. Sina's Tuding (图钉) photo-sharing service, similar to Instagram, is also produced by the same joint venture. In addition, Sina Lady Weibo (新浪女性微博) is another service, which specializes in women's interests. Sina weibo have also recently released a desktop version of weibo, available for free download at its website.
In cooperation with internet censorship in China, Sina sets strict controls over the posts on its services. Posts with links using some URL shortening services (including Google's goo.gl), or containing blacklisted keywords, are not allowed on Sina Weibo. Posts on politically sensitive topics are deleted after manual checking.
Sina Weibo is believed to employ a distributed, heterogeneous strategy for censorship that has a great amount of defense-in-depth, which ranges from keyword list filtering to individual user monitoring. Nearly 30% of the total deletion events occur within 5–30 minutes, and nearly 90% of the deletions happen within the ﬁrst 24 hours.
On 9 March 2010, the posts by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei at Sina Weibo to appeal for information on 2008 Sichuan earthquake going public were deleted and his account was closed by website's administrator. Attempts to register accounts with usernames alluding to Ai Weiwei were blocked. On 30 March 2010, Hongkonger singer Gigi Leung blogged about the jailed Zhao Lianhai, an activist and father to a 2008 Chinese milk scandal victim. The post was later deleted by an administrator.
However compared to other Chinese media formats, Weibo services are seen as allowing greater freedom of speech. Criticism against the Chinese government is more widespread on Sina Weibo and other weibo services. After the July 2011 Wenzhou train collision, many dissatisfied posts concerning governmental corruption were posted throughout the Sina Weibo.
While Weibo services might not always be in favor of government officials, many Chinese officials opened Weibo accounts as to give their own version of events.
On March 16, 2012, all the Beijing users of Sina Weibo were told to register with their real names. Although the claim can be justified to avoid the contentious disinhibitions of anonymity, it has also been criticized, as it may deter users from posting negative comments about the government, for fear of retribution.
In May 2012, Sina Weibo introduced new restrictions on the content its 300 million users can post.
On June 4, 2013, Sina Weibo had blocked the terms "Today", "Tonight", "June 4", and "Big Yellow Duck". If these were searched, a message would appear stating that according to relevant laws, statutes and policies, the results of the search couldn't be shown. The censorship occurred because of a photoshopped version of Tank Man, which swapped all tanks with the sculpture Rubber Duck, had been circulating around Twitter.
On 8 June 2011, Tianjin Airlines unveiled an Embraer E-190 jet in special Sina Weibo livery and named it "Sina Weibo plane" (新浪微博号). It is the first commercial airplane to be named after a website in China.
Most popular accounts
As of 26 July 2014, the following ten individuals and organizations managed the most popular accounts (name handle in parentheses) and the number of followers:
- Chen Kun (chenkun) - 73,187,051
- Yao Chen (yaochen) - 70,818,910
- Amy Cheung (iamamycheung) - 62,464,004
- Guo Degang (guodegang) - 59,266,397
- Zhao Wei (zhaowei) - 58,937,085
- Ruby Lin (linxinru) - 57,346,307
- Weibo's Android Client - 54,490,892
- Wen Zhang (wenzhang626) - 54,039,878
- Weibo's New User Guide - 53,103,081
- Xie Na (xiena) - 51,198,265
On 13 September 2013, the unverified handle "veggieg" (widely believed to be Faye Wong) posted a message suggesting that she had divorced her husband. The message was commented and re-posted more than a million times in four hours. The record was broken on 31 March 2014 by Wen Zhang, who posted a long apology admitting extramarital affair when his wife Ma Yili was pregnant with their second child. This message was commented and re-posted more than 2.5 million times in 10 hours. (Ma's response also generated 2.18 million responses in 12 hours.)
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- Official website (Chinese)
- Other versions of Sina Weibo: Traditional character, Taiwanese, Hongkongese,Italian(Unofficial)
- Official clients for various platforms: Android phones, Android tablets, Blackberry, iPhone & iPod touch, iPad, Symbian S60, Windows Mobile & Windows Phone 7 devices
- Uncensored version of Sina Weibo Search including posts that have been deleted by Sina: FreeWeibo
- English article written about Sina Weibo