Type of site
|Available in||Simplified Chinese
|Owner||Sina Corp (operated by Weibo Corporation)|
|Alexa rank||21 (August 2017)|
|Launched||14 August 2009|
|Literal meaning||Sina Microblog|
Sina Weibo (NASDAQ: WB) is a Chinese microblogging (weibo) website. Launched by Sina Corporation on 14 August 2009, it is one of the most popular social media sites in China. As of Q4 2017, Sina Weibo has over 392 million monthly active users, with surging stocks, advertising sales, revenue and total earnings in the quarter. Recently, it surpassed US$30 billion market valuation mark for the first time.
In March 2014, Sina Corporation announced a spinoff of Weibo as a separate entity and filed an IPO under the symbol WB. Sina carved-out part 11% of Weibo in the IPO, and Alibaba owned 32% post IPO. The company began trading publicly on 17 April 2014.
"Weibo" () 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. Sina's CEO Charles Chao considered this to be an opportunity. 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, which administrators later said 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 as the new domain used by the website. Meanwhile, the official logo was also updated. In June 2011, Sina announced an English-language version of Sina Weibo would be developed and launched, where the contents would still be controlled by China's laws.
On 9 April 2013, Alibaba Group announced that it would 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 use 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, Singapore, Taiwan, and Macau, as well as some famous foreign individuals and organizations, including Kevin Rudd,Boris Johnson,David Cameron,Narendra Modi,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. A user may post with a 140-character limit, mention or talk to other people using "@UserName" formatting, add hashtags with "#HashName#" formatting, follow other users to make their posts appear in one's own timeline, re-post with "//@UserName" similar to Twitter's retweet function "RT @UserName", select posts for one's favorites list, and 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. In January 2016, Sina Weibo decided to remove the 140-character limit for any original posts, and the users were thereby allowed to post with up to 2000 characters, while the 140-character limit was still applicable to re-posts and comments.
Hashtags differ slightly, using a double-hashtag "#HashName#" method, since the lack of spacing between Chinese characters necessitates a closing tag. Users can own hashtags by requesting the monitoring of a certain hashtag from the Sinai Weibo. Users can send an application and receive an answer from the company within one to three days. Once the Users own a hashtag they will have access to a wide variety of functions available only to them. The moderators need to stay active if they posts less than 1 post in a calendar week, they will be expelled from hosting the hashtag.
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.
Although often described as a Chinese version of Twitter, Sina Weibo is more like a combination of Twitter, Facebook, and Medium, etc. The users of Weibo interact much more with each other than the users of Twitter do. Many topics that go viral on Weibo also started from the platform itself, while Twitter topics often come from the news or events that take place outside Twitter.
Sina Weibo has an identification policy. It is 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 is appended to their username. An orange V is for people, while a blue one is for organizations and companies. Also, there is 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 reaches a threshold, users can apply for 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 edition in English and other languages. On 9 January the company ran a week-long public test of its English edition.
Sina Weibo's official iPhone and iPad apps are available in English language.
Weilingdi (, literally, micro fief) 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 () photo-sharing service, similar to Instagram, is also produced by the same joint venture. In addition, Sina Lady Weibo () 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, Hong Kong 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 16 March 2012, all the Beijing users of Sina Weibo were told to register with their real names.
In May 2012, Sina Weibo introduced new restrictions on the content its 300 million users can post.
On 4 June 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.
According to BBC news report,Weibo users drop-off since 2014 can be attributed to both government crackdown that Chinese government regulations on preventing the use of aliases to create accounts and the rising threat from competitor WeChat.
On September 8, 2017, Weibo gave an ultimatum to its users to verify their accounts with their real names by September 15.
On February 18, 2018,Sina Weibo has provided a 'Comment moderation' function for both head users and official members.Comments received after opening this feature will not be displayed immediately, but after being approved by moderators. Users can utilize this feature to avoid illegal content appearing in their comment section.
Average organic post view is around 10% - 15% on Weibo, in order to attract more followers, there are 3 types of paid ads options available:
On 8 June 2011, Tianjin Airlines unveiled an Embraer E-190 jet in special Sina Weibo livery and named it "Sina Weibo plane" (). It is the first commercial airplane to be named after a website in China.
On February 5, 2018, Weibo officially announced that it will become the exclusive partner of the New Media Social Platform of the CCTV Spring Festival Gala in 2018 to attract more Chinese people in the world to use Weibo.
As of September 2017, the following ten individuals managed the most popular accounts (name handle in parentheses) and the number of followers:
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.) On 22 June TFBOYS member Wang Junkai was awarded a Guinness world record title for the most reposts of a Weibo post. His message was reposted 42,776,438 times.Luhan was awarded a Guinness World record for most comments on a Weibo post.
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