China's Weibo Suffocates and Dies

Discussion in 'China' started by Ray, Feb 7, 2014.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Case study: How Weibo has changed

    Murong Xuecun, a 39-year-old novelist, once had 1.1 million followers on Weibo. He explains why he has now largely abandoned the social media site



    "After my account was deleted in May 2013, I opened nine more accounts and they were all deleted. Recently one of them was allowed back, so I'm using that.

    "In 2009, Sina (Weibo) invited me to open an account. They said lots of accounts were from sports stars and celebrities and they wanted someone to offer some depth. So I opened an account and I helped them find other writers.

    "To start with, I only tweeted about literature and art. But during the 'Jasmine Revolution' (a short-lived movement at the time of the Arab Spring) my friend Ran Yunfei was arrested. I was so angry I started calling for rights and equality.

    "At the start I only used to post every two to three days. Sometimes I wouldn't post at all for a month. But after the Jasmine Revolution I posted every day.

    "Now I rarely use it. They always delete my accounts and it is a hassle to set up each one anew. Also they always delay my posts. It takes hours before my followers can read anything. That is annoying.

    Weibo users will soon find another home following crackdown 30 Jan 2014

    "The information flowing on Weibo has changed dramatically since the campaign against the internet began last August. There used to be lots of people discussing the history of the Party, posting criticism of either central or local government, and debating the nature of patriotism.

    "Now it is all about pets, show business and the daily lives of celebrities. Going forward, I am not going to spend much time on it."


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    China's Sina Weibo is in danger of becoming boring - just how the authorities want it 30 Jan 2014
    How China killed off discussion on the web 30 Jan 2014

    Case study: How Weibo has changed - Telegraph

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    That much about all the "open-ness" that the Chinese shout from the rooftops about regarding their much loved Weibo.

    From discussing issues that are contemporary to being confined to animals and shenanigans of celebrities, which, of course, does not mean celebrity politicians! ;)

    This is the modern way of the CCP doing a "Cultural Revolution". Find out about dissident views and dissidents and then go after them, having clamped down any further criticism!

    What a way to go!
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    China's Sina Weibo is in danger of becoming boring - just how the authorities want it

    Comment: The success of China's censorship of microblogging sites could become a model for other nations


    It's easy to be glib about social media. Page upon page of selfies, pleas for attention from celebrities, misogynist trolls and angels-on-pinhead arguments.

    But as the Telegraph's research shows, the Chinese authorities take the web very seriously indeed.

    Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, is a huge platform, with over 200 million users. And for a while, it functioned freely, or as freely as anything does in China. It was, of course, monitored, and thousands of people were employed to post pro-government opinions and stories on the network.

    But the old-style censorship didn't seem to be working as well as it should. Partly because it was just too obvious. In March 2012, rumours spread that the son of a Communist Party Official had been involved in a fatal crash while driving his Ferrari. As people discussed the story, they suddenly found that the word Ferrari had been blocked. For many, this made it clear that someone powerful had something to hide, and people openly wrote about their frustration with the system.

    Shortly afterwards, Weibo introduced new contracts concerning conduct. Anonymity went out the window. Spreading 'umours' became an offence. High profile users were put on alert - if a story you shared went viral, you were personally responsible. On a platform dependent on sharing, this was bound to cause people to think twice before sending their messages out to the world. And on a reactive, interactive and instantaneous platform like Weibo or Twitter, that slowing of pace is lethal. It would appear that Weibo is in danger of becoming boring. Just how the authorities want it.

    Could this happen elsewhere? Look at the debate in the UK: every week a fresh cry goes up for something to be 'done' about Twitter trolls, often beyond the existing laws that govern free speech and communication - with the ending of anonymity being a particularly popular (and ill thought out) demand. While these calls may be well-meaning, they are part of a broader uncertainty about how to deal with the fact people now have an unprecedented ability to publish to the world.

    The Chinese government (and others, such as the highly tech-savvy Iranians) will tell you that this comes with an unprecedented ability to monitor and censor. As China becomes more and more powerful, its model of web censorship, both internal and external, could become the norm.

    China's Sina Weibo is in danger of becoming boring - just how the authorities want it - Telegraph

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Great way to go.

    Kapil Sibal listening?
     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    China kills off discussion on Weibo after internet crackdown

    China has succeeded in neutering the country’s most free-flowing and important source of news and opinion according to new research which shows a dramatic drop in activity on the online phenomenon Sina Weibo

    Research commissioned by the Telegraph shows that the number of posts on the hugely successful Twitter-like microblog may have fallen by as much as 70 per cent in the wake of an aggressive campaign by the Communist party to intimidate influential users.

    Once an incalculably important public space for news and opinion - a fast-flowing river of information that censors struggled to contain - it has arguably now been reduced to a wasteland of celebrity endorsements, government propaganda and corporate jingles.

    At its peak, Weibo was indispensable to the life of almost every young Chinese, generating huge fan bases for actresses like Yao Chen (58m followers) and business gurus like Kaifu Lee (51m).

    In a bid to reach out to the Chinese market, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Emma Watson all joined Weibo, as did a host of politicians including British Prime Minister David Cameron and London mayor Boris Johnson.

    But the findings from the research will be a huge blow to those who hoped that Sina Weibo would weaken the Communist party’s monopoly on information.
    The Telegraph asked Professor Qian Weining and researchers at the Institute for Data Science and Engineering of East China Normal University to analyse a sample of 1.6 million Weibo users from the beginning of 2011 to the end of last year.

    The researchers tracked the number of posts made each day, which gradually swelled to a peak in March 2012 when that group alone made a total of 83.8 million posts.

    But that was the same month that the Communist party struck its first major blow against Weibo, requiring users to register their real names with the service.

    From that point, those wishing to criticise the Party had to do so without the comforting blanket of anonymity and users started to rein themselves in.
    Over the following months, the Party gradually tightened its censorship of the service, deleting the accounts of activists and instituting a 'five strikes-and-out rule’, which suspended the accounts of anyone posting five “sensitive” tweets for 48 hours.

    Nevertheless, Weibo remained resilient; it was still the only way for the Chinese public to air its grievances and absorb information which had not come from the dead hand of the state media.

    But the findings from the research will be a huge blow to those who hoped that Sina Weibo would weaken the Communist party’s monopoly on information.

    The Telegraph asked Professor Qian Weining and researchers at the Institute for Data Science and Engineering of East China Normal University to analyse a sample of 1.6 million Weibo users from the beginning of 2011 to the end of last year.

    The researchers tracked the number of posts made each day, which gradually swelled to a peak in March 2012 when that group alone made a total of 83.8 million posts.

    But that was the same month that the Communist party struck its first major blow against Weibo, requiring users to register their real names with the service.

    From that point, those wishing to criticise the Party had to do so without the comforting blanket of anonymity and users started to rein themselves in.

    Over the following months, the Party gradually tightened its censorship of the service, deleting the accounts of activists and instituting a 'five strikes-and-out rule’, which suspended the accounts of anyone posting five “sensitive” tweets for 48 hours.

    Nevertheless, Weibo remained resilient; it was still the only way for the Chinese public to air its grievances and absorb information which had not come from the dead hand of the state media.

    These active users also registered a huge drop in activity, from a peak of almost 68 million tweets in March 2012 to just 17.9 million by the end of last year, a 74 per cent fall.

    Extrapolated across the whole of Weibo’s user base this would represent billions of posts which are no longer being made.

    Two weeks ago, it emerged that the total number of users of Weibo had fallen for the first time, by 9pc in 2013 to 281 million. In response, $500 million (£302 million) was wiped off the value of Sina, its parent company, in New York. Sina’s market capitalisation is now $4.5 billion.

    The new research paints an even more damning picture, showing how while only a small number of users have cancelled their accounts – a huge share has simply fallen mute.

    A spokesman for Sina said the research was not comprehensive.

    “This third party research cannot represent the whole of Weibo,” he said. “The number of people who log in every day is steadfastly increasing. The number of people who log in less frequently is indeed not growing as robustly, but this does not affect the platform that much.”

    Many of Weibo’s former devotees have been seduced by WeChat, a Chinese version of WhatsApp. This mobile app allows users to instant message their friends, either individually or in groups.

    Instead of airing controversial opinions publicly, WeChat affords privacy, said Zhang Lifan.

    “Weibo is public facing, where lots of potential strangers can see the information you share,” said Mr Zhang. “But on WeChat you can share to a small circle of people, which is safer. Of course it can still be censored,” he said.

    For the Communist party, the impact of WeChat is also much more manageable: news cannot go viral.

    China kills off discussion on Weibo after internet crackdown - Telegraph
     

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