Nice piece by Lara Farrar up on CNN’s website about microblogging in China. I spoke with Lara as she was reporting (thanks for the quote, Lara!) and she also spoke with a wide range of great people.

Some highlights from Lara’s piece:

The return of the Twitter clones
While almost all of the early Chinese micro-blogging pioneers faced the same fate as Twitter, most of the sites are now back online and are fiercely competing to gain a share of what many predict will soon be an exploding population of Chinese micro-bloggers.

The Twitter clones include Zuosa, QQ’s TaoTao, Digu and Sina Microblog, a site launched by web portal Sina.com, allow users to upload pictures and embed videos to go with their 140-character limit posts. In contrast, only text can be posted directly onto Twitter. Some of the services interface with Twitter as well, allowing members to update their Chinese Twitter and the real one simultaneously.

How Zuosa hopes to remain unblocked
Since Zuosa has been back online, founder Alex Mou has been working hard to cultivate a community that seems to be willing to blog about everything except subject matter that might offend the Chinese government. “You have to watch yourself,” Mou said. “You have to do some monitoring, filtering and stuff.”

How much Chinese love Social Media
More than 90 percent of Chinese broadband users use social media, compared to 76 percent in the United States, according to a study from San Francisco-based Netpop Research.

“If you look at how the Chinese use the Internet, instant messaging is huge,” Thomas Crampton said. “Twittering is sort of a more social version of that, so I think it is well within the [Chinese] social media ecosystem.”

Zuosa offers a Buddhist business model for Twitter
Zuosa is earning money from users willing to pay to receive posts via text messages written by Master Xue Cheng, one of China’s more famous Buddhist monks.

“His followers are our first paying users,” Mou said. “Although it is very new we can see that some people are willing to pay to receive important information.”

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8 comments

  1. Hi Thomascrampton

    Twitter is the most rapid growing social site in the world.
    It should be same in china as well.

    Thanks for sharing this information.

    M Yakub Chowdhury.

    Freelance Job Trainer

  2. The CNN article is a good one, but Fanfou and Jiwai.de are notable non-mentions.
    Fanfou is still totally offline, and Jiwai.de is displaying an ever-so-cute message:

    Temporarily Down for Maintenance
    Don't worry. We will be back one day and speak proudly
    “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”.

  3. @Rick: Thanks for those. She also mentioned Microsoft's ill-fated and shortlived Juku, which was shutdown following charges of piracy by Plurk. (Wonder what will happen there!)

  4. @Rick: Thanks for those. She also mentioned Microsoft's ill-fated and shortlived Juku, which was shutdown following charges of piracy by Plurk. (Wonder what will happen there!)

  5. There is a very interesting phenomenon. Among the three most popular sites banned in China, Facebook/Youtube/Twitter, it is different scenario: For Facebook and Youtube, people basically give up, but yet there are an estimated 20,000 twitter users from China. F/Y have alternatives: Kaixin.com/Renren.com instead of facebook, and Youku.com/Tudou.com instead of youtube. But the alternatives for twitter, as you mentioned above, are not really taking the people away from twitter. Fanfou.com was a good exception, but it was banned. Hardly does twitter users transfer to sina. Would like to hear your explanations for this.

  6. Very interesting point. Perhaps it is because the Twitter API allows people to circumvent the GFW relatively easily while they need a full VPN to get to Facebook. As for YouTube vs Youku/Tudou, the local alternatives offer so much more relevant material.

    Anyone have thoughts on why Sina is not getting people over from Twitter?

  7. There is a very interesting phenomenon. Among the three most popular sites banned in China, Facebook/Youtube/Twitter, it is different scenario: For Facebook and Youtube, people basically give up, but yet there are an estimated 20,000 twitter users from China. F/Y have alternatives: Kaixin.com/Renren.com instead of facebook, and Youku.com/Tudou.com instead of youtube. But the alternatives for twitter, as you mentioned above, are not really taking the people away from twitter. Fanfou.com was a good exception, but it was banned. Hardly does twitter users transfer to sina. Would like to hear your explanations for this.

  8. Very interesting point. Perhaps it is because the Twitter API allows people to circumvent the GFW relatively easily while they need a full VPN to get to Facebook. As for YouTube vs Youku/Tudou, the local alternatives offer so much more relevant material.

    Anyone have thoughts on why Sina is not getting people over from Twitter?