Microblog users become strong force to help those in need

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, August 4, 2011
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Microblogs are surging in popularity in China, with more than 195 million registered microblog users. Although most users log on purely to chat with friends and share news, others have harnessed the power of microblogs to help people who are in dire need of assistance.

Wang Gengxiang, a 6-year-old boy from north China's Shanxi Province, was badly injured in an accident involving a pile of burning straw last winter. Most of the skin on his head was burned off, requiring him to wear a full surgical mask to prevent the scars from becoming infected. However, his parents could not afford expensive skin-grafting operations.

Pictures showing Wang playing with his puppy while wearing his surgical mask were rapidly circulated on microblogs, touching the hearts of millions. In just over a month, over 600,000 yuan (about 91,000 U.S. dollars) was raised for Wang, allowing him to receive skin grafts.

Li Ruiqiang, an editor for popular microblog provider weibo.com, said that microblogs' ease of use and high interactivity allow them to grab the attention of a large number of users in a short period of time.

"These attributes allow microblogs to play a major role in providing social assistance for disadvantaged people," said Li.

However, the microblogging sector is still in its infancy in China. There are no laws or regulations concerning how they are used, and the authenticity of information posted on microblogs can be hard for most users to verify.

Yu Jianrong, a professor with the Rural Development Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, opened a microblog account dedicated to rescuing child beggars in January.

Yu called on visitors to take photos of child beggars and upload them to his microblog. At present, Yu's microblog has attracted more than 200,000 followers.

"The emergence of microblogs as a medium for social assistance actually reveals the deficiency of China's charity efforts. Microblogs provide a perfect outlet for the love and sympathy of the public," said Yu.

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