Much the same as Twitter, the Weibo microblog allows users to post messages of 140 Chinese characters or less via the Web, SMS or MMS. Microblogging has become an Internet phenomenon since Sina.com started beta testing its microblogging service, Sina Weibo, in August 2009.
In 2011, microblogging showed explosive growth in China. Chinese microblogs now have more than 300 million users and 200 million posts a day, compared with 63.11 million users at the end of 2010.
Thanks to microblogs, the public now has more opportunities to get real-time information and voice their opinion as news occurs. Microblogging became an extremely popular way for netizens to voice their concerns during the Wenzhou train crash and Guo Meimei Red Cross scandal. Microblogging has also lead to the popularity of new patterns of expression on the internet, such as the "snarling style".
2011 has been called "Year of Government Microblogging in China." Data shows that the number of verified government accounts on China's leading microblog service provider, Sina Weibo, reached about 20,000 by the end of October 2011 with more than 10,000 accounts operated by government agencies and nearly 9,000 by individual officials.
"Ping'an Beijing," the Sina Weibo account representing the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, has become China's most influential government microblog in terms of followers and net traffic.
Microblogs are growing into an increasingly vital tool for the government to disseminate information, guide public opinion and interact with the public on equal footing.
(China.org.cn by Li Xiao January 6, 2012)