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Micro blogs now No 3 online source of info [China Daily]


Microblogs are changing the media landscape of China with 70% of topics dealing with improper behaviour by government officials. Surveillance gone the other way round. “…since it’s almost impossible to filter information on micro blogs, the topics are more sensitive and interesting…” Zhang Shuting, professor at the Communication University of China 中 国 传 媒 大 学 校 园 .

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Micro blogs now No 3 online source of info
By Cheng Yingqi
Source – China Daily, published March 26, 2011

 

Women display posters in a promotional campaign for a micro blog in Fuzhou, in East China’s Fujian province, in November 2010. Zheng Shuai / for China Daily

BEIJING – Micro blogs, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, have become the third-largest information source of public opinion on the Internet in China, a media research report said.

 

Within a mere 20 months of appearing in the nation, micro blogs became the third-favorite online source of information, after news portals and online forums, according to the Internet Real-time Public Opinion Index Annual Report 2010.

The report was released on Thursday by the Communication University of China in Beijing.

“Compared with traditional information channels, micro blogs are an easier and more convenient way for people to spread information. You just have to send a message through your mobile phone to your micro blog to share it with the public,” said Zhang Shuting, a professor at the Communication University.

“And since it’s almost impossible to filter information on micro blogs, the topics are more sensitive and interesting,” Zhang said.

The research report found that scandals concerning land acquisition and official corruption drew the most attention on micro blogs.

One out of 10 messages was related to land acquisition and resettlement in 2010, with 60 percent of the comments concerning demolition conflicts between people and county-level governments, the report said.

Seventy percent of the hot micro blog topics dealt with improper behavior or remarks by government officials, and 20 percent concerned the police.

In one well-known case, a drunk driver reportedly shouted “my father is Li Gang” when he was stopped by security guards after running into two students. The name of the father, who is a policeman in Baoding, Hebei province, became one of the most popular catchphrases in the country.

“As the influence of micro blogs increases, the government is attaching more importance to using them to interact with the public,” Zhang said.

The report showed that 630 government departments in China had opened micro blog accounts by the end of 2010, and 30 percent of those were put into operation in December.

“The number of government micro blog accounts has evidently increased since late 2010, so we are expecting a faster growth in official micro blog accounts this year, especially those opened by the public security department,” said Li Weining, a researcher in charge of the report.

Of all government micro blog accounts, 73.3 percent belonged to public security agencies. Other active users were tourism authorities, at 5.9 percent, and transport authorities, at 1.4 percent.

On Nov 29, the Xiamen police bureau, in East China’s Fujian province, arrested a couple on suspicion of killing their 3-year-old daughter, marking the first time suspects in a criminal case were found with the help of micro-bloggers.

Since then, netizens have helped public security departments clear a number of cases by providing clues or suggestions.

By October, China has had 125 million micro blog users, according to an earlier report of Oriental Morning Post in Shanghai.

Since the beginning of 2011, new uses have emerged for micro blogs, such as people using them as a platform to crack down on human trafficking or to locate and contact relatives after the earthquake in Japan.

But Zhang, the Communication University professor, said it is still too early to draw the conclusion that micro blogs are shouldering new social functions.

“Let’s wait and see what will happen on micro blogs in 2011,” Zhang said.

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Filed under: China Daily, Chinese Model, Culture, Education, Environment, Influence, Media, People, Population, Social, Technology, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

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