Weibo: the Chinese Twitter

Monday 12 September 2011, 13:10

Najiba Kasraee Najiba Kasraee is editor of the BBC College of Journalism's international websites

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"I have around 300,000 followers and if I do not check my account for two weeks the number can drop by almost 50,000." This is what the Head of the BBC Chinese Service, Raymond Li, told me about his Micro Blog (in Chinese: Weibo) account.

Micro Blog is the Chinese version of Twitter. It was created less than two years ago, in December 2009, yet the number of people using it reached 200 million this summer, matching the 200 million Twitter users worldwide.

Twitter and Facebook are banned in China and, while there are proxy ways to access them, the world's largest online population of 485 million users has several home-grown options to choose from. Micro Blog is the fastest growing 'tweeting' platform. There are several other smaller social media platforms in China too.

The effect of using Micro Blog is incredible for the BBC Chinese service, as it can make an unprecedented fast contact with its audience.

Raymond Li says that, through a direct message from a Weibo user, he learned about the taxi drivers strike in eastern China. The information was later verified with the Chinese authorities and other news sources, and a very original story was born on the BBC Chinese website.

In the video, Raymond Li gives more information on how Micro Blog works and how it strengthens the newsgathering capabilities of the Chinese service.

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