Micro-blogs, or Weibo in Chinese, the Chinese equivalent of the social networking site Twitter, was one of the hottest web searches in 2010 among Chinese netizens. Its wide spread appeal has evoked both cheers and criticism.
It is a platform for sharing. Users can go through the WEB, WAP, as well as various client software, updating information up to 140 characters and immediately share it.
The earliest and most well-known micro-blog is the America's Twitter. In August of 2009, with China's largest web portal Sina releasing "Sina Weibo" in private beta, it became the first portal web-site to provide micro-blogging services in China.
Micro-blog quickly became China's superstar in the booming social media industry. Its 40 million users include some of China's most famous movie stars and other public figures.
According to statistics, it took radio 38 years to reach 50 million users, Television 13 years and Internet 4 years. Amazingly, the micro-blog has already reached 40 million users since its creation just 14 months.
Some experts consider micro-blogging a new-type of media used for sharing breaking news. They believe this new media is an important way for individuals and corporations to influence and respond to public opinion. Weibo has had such a powerful impact that even Chinese Government agencies are using it to communicate with the public.
Despite its function as a channel for free expression and social surveillance, the social networking service has evoked much criticism from industry insiders.
Some say it elicits mixed feelings with techno-savvy people who were the earliest users. Fans say it's a good way to keep in touch with busy friends. But some users are starting to feel "too" connected as they grapple with messages at odd hours.
With the restriction of just over one hundred characters, there's no difference between Shakespeare and an unknown in the world of Weibo. The definition of fiction, prose and poetry is blurred in the virtual world.
(CNTV.cn January 9, 2011)