Twitter For China? More Than That!

sina weibo“sina weibo” by jonrussell is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


Sina Weibo is a Chinese social media platform launched by Sina Company on August 14, 2009. In 2017, Sina Weibo launched an international version. Weibo’s steady rises, until 2018, Weibo’s monthly active users are 462 million (Ubermetrics, 2019).

Weibo is a multi-function platform for public entertainment and a multi-function platform for communication that can be used on the web or mobile computer clients. Compared with Instagram and Twitter, Weibo has been revised after 2009,  not only can be uploaded separately, but also share images and videos at the same time, and even edit the sent Weibo for modification. When users share pictures, text, or videos on Weibo, they can communicate with others through “Review” and “Private”. Network 2.0 is converted from a static text of numbers and multimedia interfaces into user-generated content, and anyone can create and share content online (Srnicek, 2016). Weibo invites celebrities in various fields to join the platform that successfully brings more users.

Freedom of Speech

Weibo can have 462 million users, of course, is not just a fan effect. In China, compared with people in other countries, Chinese people who published a speech on the platform were not free. But compared to other Chinese social platforms, users who publish speeches on Weibo are the freest. In Weibo, only the number of fans reaches a certain degree of users such as celebrities, which will require a real-name system, so Weibo does not force all users to complete a real-name system, and the user’s personal information can be forged. This will protect some marginalized groups such as LGBT and women, and the oppressed marginalized groups are related to their status, they are unlikely to get personal status (Noble, 2018), and when they hide their identity reduce the chance of humiliation by others. At the same time, each user can create at least one account, even if there is an account real-name system, they can post a speech on another account.

Hot Search

In addition, the content profited on Weibo contains various fields. Academic topics, social topics, and entertainment topics, each different hot topic will not be confused, people can even manually switching the city news. Adjusting the recommended information for different users, when the user manually pays attention to some Weibo, the platform will recommend more matching Weibo to the user according to the similarity. So even if the user has different interests, they can find the topics they are interested in on Weibo. This is the reason why the number of users is only increased, and it is why Weibo will succeed.

Sino-Weibo Hot Search. RealReachel@Twitter, All Rights Reserved.



More users will bring more advertising brands to the platform. Weibo is a platform to connect brands and consumers, collecting user information, and combining it with product sales models. The advertising platform is an attempt, indirect, and direct promotion of an economy to the Internet (Srnicek, 2016). Yong Huang (2021) refers to the social platform advertisement from a simple communication pathway to the fan’s economic culture, and finally, use the user data of the social platform to achieve advertisements.


The Internet creates a new type of intermediary, directly bypassing physical stores to provide online shopping experiences such as product release and service (Mansell& Steinmueller, 2020). The more users interact with the platform, the more preference data the platform can collect, extract useful information to expand its business, and combine with the business model of the platform to monopolize the industry. KOL is the promotion group of the recent Internet rise, they have automatically categorized in different professional fields. Beauty bloggers on Weibo platforms are KOL, who are more influential in the beauty group. Cosmetics brands will promote their products according to the clicks and user numbers of beauty bloggers. For example, if the lipstick color testing videos or pictures posted by the bloggers get high likes, KOL will be arranged to promote lipstick products on Weibo. As more and more users are attracted to Weibo and interact with KOL, the Weibo platform will collect more user information and be able to launch the next promotion with more precision. This is a virtuous cycle for Weibo, and the final result is that Weibo monopolizes the promotion circle of products on the Internet

Taobao Doll 17“Taobao Doll 17” by bfishadow is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Weibo will also directly cooperate with other platforms to further embed itself into life and become the life infrastructure constructed by Internet enterprises. Alibaba has a 32% stake in Weibo, so Weibo will partner with Alibaba’s Taobao platform. Taobao, an online retail platform in the Asia-Pacific region (mainly in China), has nearly 500 million users. By cooperating with Taobao, an online shopping platform, Weibo has deepened users’ dependence on Weibo. In Weibo, there are mainly four promotion methods (Ubermetrics, 2019). The first one is an Open-Screen promotion, where all users can open a Weibo account and see a picture of the brand. The second one is Hot Search promotion, where brands buy a term on Hot Search. The third is the Fan Headline, which is aimed at promoting the fans who follow the star will see the promoted Weibo on the home page. The fourth is Mass promotion. Brands popularize users randomly without specifying user groups. Weibo usually uses these four ways to promote Taobao, and at the same time carries out data association with Taobao. When a user searches for a product on Taobao and returns to Weibo, the same type of promotion of the product will immediately appear on the Weibo platform. The same is true for the user to return to Taobao after searching on Weibo. The data of the two platforms are interlinked and enhance embeddability in life through mutual cooperation.



As one of the largest social platforms in China, Weibo KOL accounts for most of the promotion on the platform. However, many Kols cheat users by receiving promotions without quality guarantee, resulting in a bad situation after users use. The lack of a mandatory real-name system on Weibo has led some anonymous users to abuse marginalized groups who have adopted the real-name system. Some LGBT groups have photos on their home pages and are abused when they make comments, even there is no real-name system. And in the search engine, users can also see a lot of negative related words for women. For example, some women in the hospital wearing beautiful clothes with beautiful makeup, optimistic in the face of pain, but by the male crown on the name of malingerer eyeball, and search for women in the hospital entries are related to these insults. Another example is a woman who is killed by a man in the middle of the night. It can be found that women have been stared at by men in search engines that the dominance of men in society leads to the stigmatization of women in search engines (Lusoli& Turner, 2021).

All of these factors point to Weibo’s regulatory system, which is changing, of course. Now, if users are cheated by KOL, they can provide evidence and the KOL’S ID to the regulatory system, and the Weibo system will suspend KOL’s account depending on the severity of the problem. After marginalized groups are abused, screenshots will be sent to the supervision system and those who maliciously slander marginalized groups will be directly banned. Defamatory entries were also removed from Weibo after women protested. But even though Weibo is making progress, it is far from enough to be a large social platform. Weibo should make use of multi-interest methods to make policies with groups in different fields (Internet Society, 2014). Each user’s rights can be better protected by preparing and identifying problems in advance.



Ubermetrics.(2019). What Communicators Need to Know About … “Weibo”

What Communicators Need to Know About … “Weibo”


Srnicek, N. (2016). Platform capitalism. pp.22-45 ProQuest Ebook Central


Noble, Safiya U. (2018) A society, searching. In Algorithms of Oppression: How search engines reinforce racism. pp. 15-63. New York: New York University.


Huang Y, Huang Wj, Xiang Xl&Yan Jj.(2021) Empirical study of personalized advertising recommendation based on DBSCAN clustering of sina weibo user-generated content. Published by Elsevier B. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license:


Lusoli, A., & Turner, F. (2021). “It’s an Ongoing Bromance”: Counterculture and Cyberculture in Silicon Valley—An Interview with Fred Turner. Journal of Management Inquiry, 30(2), 235–242.


Internet Society (2014) Who Makes the Internet Work? The Internet Ecosystem.


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