Sina WEIBO: A Social Platform from China


1. What’s Sina Weibo?

  • Weibo is a social media platform which provide blog-like service invented by “Weibo” (微博) is the Chinese word for “microblog”.It was launched by Sina Corporation on 14 August 2009. By the third quarter of 2015, Sina Weibo has 222 million subscribers and 100 million daily users. About 100 million messages are posted each day on Sina Weibo. In November 2016, Sina canceled 140 characters limitation so that all the normal users could post their blog of more than 2000 characters.
  • Compared with Twitter

      Weibo is considered to be the social media platform that is most similar to twitter in China. Research shows that there are quite some differences between how Weibo is used in China and Twitter is used in other countries. Not only do users of Sina Weibo publish more posts than those on Twitter, they also tend to disclose more personal information about themselves. They are more active in reacting on other people and sharing their views. While topics discussed on Twitter are often linked to institutions and companies, users of Sina avoid talking about (political) organizations or other institutions. The idea that Weibo is used in a more ‘personal’ way is supported by the fact that Sina Weibo users publish 19% more posts during the weekends. This in contrast to Twitter, where people post 11% less tweets on weekends than they do on weekdays.

  • Ownership

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. Now Alibaba owns 32 percent of Sina Weibo.

  • Censorship

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, or containing blacklisted keywords, are not allowed on Sina Weibo. Posts on politically sensitive topics are deleted after manual checking.

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.


  • How to use:

-Post: characters, images, videos

-Repost: reposting when keep the original content, also add new comment

-Follow: known as “fans” or “followers”

-Search: Use hashtag# to gather information

-Private message: the message could only be seen by one, realizing private conversation


2.Users and Their Followers

  •  Users

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 will be added behind their username. An orange V is for people while a blue one is for organizations and companies.

  • How many followers? (most popular accounts)

-The top three who got most followers in China:

Xie na, Chen kun, Yao chen.(All in show and entertainment industry)

(More than 90 million followers)

(More than 80 million followers)

(More than 80 million followers)

-Some famous international users

 Leonardo (Followers: 1399605)

Beckham (Followers: 5712555)Tom Cruise (Followers: 5355854)

Trudeau (Followers: 107662)


3. Some Statistics About Weibo



4. Copyright Protection

As the popularity of Chinese social media increases in recent years, many users love to post their artworks, paintings and original music on Sina Weibo. The main aim is not only share with friends and followers, but also attract companies to buy their artworks. However, some images from Weibo were used for the commercial purpose with out any permission.

Various methods that users use for copyright protection:

-Watermark: In Weibo, when you finish posted your photos, it will automatically generate a watermark that include your users name and URL on the right bottom of the photo. However, it is not very effective since the “thief” may cut the bottom of the image and re-use by add his/her own watermark.

-Special text: Many users choose to add some big text or unique well-designed watermark to almost cover the main part/theme of the images.This method adds difficulty for the image theft.

-Some users directly said on their Weibo, “everyone can repost my photos or content, but you need to “@” my Weibo account name and also mentioned that it is not my original work and forward from others”; as well as link back to original user account in order to avoid the image theft.


5. Weibo & Institutions

  • Museum: National Museum of China

he Weibo account of National Museum of China is a highly activated account, its post includes the live events and exhibitions forecasting, explanation and instructions of its exhibitions, interview videos of its chief curators and other curators from the world, behind scene stories and back stories of its art pieces, official magazine updating, etc. It is highly interactive with the personal account of its curators and other domestic and foreign institutions. What makes it different with other two institutions is the back ground stories and behind scene post which give many new information and interpretation of those art pieces of exhibition.

  • Library: Peking University Library

Peking University Library has a collection of more than 8 million printed books , 200 million digital books, and 56 thousand pieces of audio material. The Weibo account of Peking University Library is a highly activated social media account, the content of its post includes new collections, live events forecasting, share of students art pieces of both images and videos, employment posting, etc. Rather merely being an account of the library, it is more like an service account of all students and instructors from broader perspective. It has a positive interaction with students account, reposting students art works daily. The latest video posted by the account is 110 year anniversary micro movie of the library made by the students.


  • Archive: Zhejiang Archive

The Weibo account of Zhejiang Archive is a more bureaucratic and political account, most of its posting is about official events or seminars, or leadership activities. It is a news-updating account, which seldom post any content related to its collections or interact with any other personal or institutional accounts.



“湖南卫视盗图侵权:王云飞微博证实插画被盗用【图】.” 湖南卫视盗图侵权:王云飞微博证实插画被盗用【图】_FEI童鞋微博_明星新闻_娱乐资讯_老男人. Accessed March 12, 2017.
Christinadong. “Copyright Awareness in Chinese Social Media.” Copyright Awareness in Chinese Social Media. Accessed March 12, 2017.
“Sina Weibo.” Wikipedia. March 11, 2017. Accessed March 12, 2017.
Ong, Josh. “China’s Sina Weibo Grew 73% in 2012 to 500M Accounts.” The Next Web. February 21, 2013. Accessed March 12, 2017.
“Sina Weibo revenue and statistics.” Business of Apps. December 07, 2015. Accessed March 12, 2017.
Flannery, Russell. “As Alibaba Basked In Attention, Shares In Its Social Media Arm Weibo Tanked Yesterday.” Forbes. May 07, 2014. Accessed March 12, 2017.
Keng, Kuang, and John Zongmin Chow. “Censorship In China: Which Words Are Banned From Weibo On The 26th Anniversary Of Tiananmen Square.” International Business Times. December 15, 2015. Accessed March 12, 2017.


By JoJo(Ningjiao) Han and Joy(Shunzhi) Xu

1 comment for “Sina WEIBO: A Social Platform from China

  1. Atalanti Hoffman
    March 15, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    We found Joy and JoJo’s presentation on Weibo to be enlightening and highly informative, especially for a social media platform that neither of us are accustom to using. On the one hand, it is a very important outlet because of its ability to instill within its users a sense of agency; in other words, Weibo offers them freedom of speech in a country whose internet is highly regulated and controlled. Yet, institutions that are featured as highly followed on Weibo, are likely entrusted with representing China in a high regard when it comes to making accessible the preserved collections and documents that can be offered to the world. Collectively, this means that they must be aware of what kinds of items/collections they make available over Weibo. With China’s politicism in mind, it is important to focus on the censorships that would take place on a vocal outlet like Weibo. According to the news source Pacific Standard:

    “For Weibo, censorship that’s adequate for the government may alienate consumers. As Wired reported, after a government crackdown threatening to jail users who post “inaccurate” messages if it is viewed over 500 times, Weibo’s users started to leave the service. Censorship, according to Weibo’s filing, can “adversely affect our user experience and reduce users’ engagement and activities on our platform as well as adversely affect our ability to attract new users to our platform.”

    As well, particular figures and topics cannot be discussed on Weibo either. To quote Propublica’s example, anyone who mentions the politician Bo Xilai will have their posts “deleted quite quickly”, as the government “doesn’t want that kind of stuff to get off the ground in the first place.” This level of control will likely affect institutions that want to promote a lot of historical or current artifacts that may be politically charged.

    The connection to the world is also important, when highly regarded figures like Justin Trudeau and Leonardo DiCaprio use Weibo to reach out to other parts of the world. One recognizable user, Tom Cruise, compared Weibo to Twitter. This similarity is also essential, as it makes the platform easy to use, not only for celebrities from other countries but for institutions as well. Looking into Weibo on our own, we found it interesting that Weibo is connecting itself to other forms of social media like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and even cloud storages like Google Drive. This makes Weibo easy, and also highly reliable, to use.

    By Atalanti Hoffman and Andreas Babiolakis


    “China’s Memory Hole: The Images Erased from Sina Weibo,” November 14, 2013. ProPublica

    “IPO Gives us a Look Inside Sina Weibo, a Company Struggling with Censorship,” April 21, 2014. Pacific Standard

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