Differing from the creation of Facebook and Twitter, these being the most used social networking sites in the Western world, Sina Weibo was established as a spin-off from another already successful company, rather than a start-up. Sina Weibo was created and owned by Sina Corp, China’s tenth most grossing Internet Company, earning 620m yaun in renvenue in 2012 (China.org.cn 2013). Sina Corp is a multimedia online company that owns sites sina.com and sina.cn and now social network site weibo.com., giving users access to both professional and user generated content (Sina.com 2009).
Sina Weibo’s main competitor is Tencent Weibo, which is owned by China’s top ranked Internet company Tencent Holdings, with Tencent Weibo having 580m registered users and Sina Weibo having 556m (China.org.cn 2013; wearesocial 2014). Tencent Holdings isn’t the direct competitor for Sina Corp, however after the buzz created by Sina Weibo at its launch in August 2009, directly after the blocking of Twitter, Tencent Holdings chose to leverage its user base to create its statistically more popular social network Tencent Weibo (Epstien 2014).
“Chao hopes his Weibo’s market-topping success will one day remake Sina…into a dominant social networking platform like Tencent” (Epstien 2014).
The premise behind the creation of Sina Weibo was to create something that replaced Twitter and the Chinese Twitter clone Fanfou, but wasn’t Facebook as China already had RenRen. Charles Chao, Sina Corp’s CEO, came up with Sina Weibo just at the time when the government most feared microblogs, however it was approved and this fact arguably contributed to its success (Epstien 2014). Also much like its Western counterparts, Sina Weibo is free to use, given that I was able to sign up for an account without any prompt for money, however you could argue your cost is your privacy, as it is with most social network sites, the data you place on the site can be mined by marketers and developers through the sites API (Bamman et al 2012). However it is important to note that Chinese citizens don’t have the same concept of privacy or freedom that us in the Western world do, so whilst we as users of Western social networks have an issue with Facebook owning our content (even though we signed it away upon registering), Chinese users don’t seem to have the same qualms, rather they have found ways to avoid being censored through memes and jokes (Anti 2012). Interestingly, the opposite has happened, and the rise of weibo has changed the Chinese mindset and enabled them to have a public sphere and realise the importance of freedom of speech, whilst Western users of social networks have come to realise what it’s like to have that birth right taken away from them (Anti 2012).
Anti, 2012, Behind The Great Firewall of China, online video, June, TED Talks, viewed 5/10/14, <https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_anti_behind_the_great_firewall_of_china>
Bamman et al, 2012, ‘Censorship and deletion practices in Chinese Social Media’, First Monday, vol. 17. No. 3-5, viewed 12/10/14, http://public01.library.uow.edu.au/refcite/style-guides/html/
China.org.cn, 2013, Top 10 mobile internet companies in China for 2013, China.org.cn, viewed 12/10/14, < http://www.china.org.cn/top10/2013-09/17/content_29998503.htm>
Epstien, G, 2011, ‘Sina Weibo’, Forbes, 3 March, viewed 12/10/14, < http://www.forbes.com/global/2011/0314/features-charles-chao-twitter-fanfou-china-sina-weibo.html>
Sina, 2009, SINA, Sina.com, viewed 12/10/14, < http://corp.sina.com.cn/eng/sina_intr_eng.htm>
wearesocial, 2014, Social, Digital & Mobile in China 2014′, wearesocial, viewed 4/9/14 <http://www.slideshare.net/wearesocialsg/social-digital-mobile-in-china-2014>