Social Media

 

China’s social-media use increases through imitation of U.S. sites

By Andrea Crandall

 

As the evolvement of social media continues to rapidly grow and expand in the United States, China is not too far behind with its own forms.

Social media gives users a chance to meet new people, reconnect with old friends and socialize. And with China’s almost 1.4 billion population, it’s no surprise that the citizens want to take part in it so fiercely.

However, the Chinese government blocks certain social-media sites from other countries, which some think is to prevent internal rumors from getting out. Now, China has its own successful forms of social media, which are highly similar to ones such as Facebook and Twitter.

Some popular Chinese social-media sites have been created to imitate popular U.S. ones, including Twitter and Facebook. Photo collage created by Andrea Crandall

A year after widely-known Facebook was introduced to the public in 2004, the Chinese version named Renren was founded by Joseph Chen, who is considered one of the pioneers of China’s internet industry. Before creating Renren, Chen was a part of similar social-networking sites.

The site was created to enable users to connect and communicate with each other.

Renren is popularly known as “the Facebook of China,” and means “everyone.” It is considered by some as its clone. Just like Facebook, Renren was first only made available to elite Chinese university students until it grew so popular that it was made available to everyone in China.

Since 2005, Renren has been the leading social-media site for China, with an estimated 137 million active users according to the company, compared with Facebook, which has about 900 million registered users.

China’s other popular social-media site, Weibo, was launched in 2009 and has surpassed the amount of users compared to its look-alike, Twitter. With 300 million registered users, the website, owned by Sina Corporation, is growing at an incredible speed of 10 million new users per month.

According to the Chinese Internet Network Information Center, the total number of internet users in China is at a new high of 485 million users, which is 36 percent of the country’s total population. The last survey taken was from June 2011.

It comes as no shock that so many of these Internet users are on social-media sites.

The survey also took note of how using blogs and micro-blogs (such as Weibo) has become so popular. From the survey report, “the use of blogs and micro-blogs has already affected how Internet users utilize traditional online news sources.”

In the United States, it is very common for companies to look up potential employees to see how they handle their websites and what their lifestyles are like. In China, however, social-media sites are mostly used for the sole purpose of interacting with other members and socializing.

But with the popular trend of keeping up with their social-network commitments, half of the social network users between the ages of 19 and 26 in both the United States and China say that it is too demanding to keep with their social-media accounts, according to an article from The Wall Street Journal.

The study, performed by the advertising agency JWT, concluded that many youths find it a chore to keep up with their websites, including Facebook, Weibo, Twitter and personal blogs. In China, almost two thirds of those surveyed said that they feel pressured to keep up with their websites because it’s so popular and discussed in-person almost everywhere they go.

Being a part of social media is something that Americans want to be included in and are accustomed to. China seems to feel the same way, with the amount of online users continually increasing and following suit.

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