Chinese Use Microblogs to Bypass Govt Censors

Monday, 28 Mar 2011 03:41 PM

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Chinese citizens are using microblogs to avoid government censors and spread unfiltered news and opinion. The microblogs are similar to Twitter and are called “weibo,” The Washington Post reported.

There are currently a dozen microblogging sites with 120 million users and experts said that censors have so far but unable to keep up with the technology and the speed at which the 140-character posts go out. “Weibo has become the public hall for people to discuss public affairs and formulate opinions. Weibo has become the most prominent place for free speech in China,” Peking University journalism professor Hu Yong told the Post.

Posts have been made about the uprisings in the Mideast and whether it might spread to China, political reform, and Tibet and the Dalai Lama. The government is now unaware of the situation and a variety of Communist Party leaders and government officials have launched microblogs of their own, the Post said.

Twitter, along with Facebook and YouTube, are blocked in China but imitators emerged, with microblogging exploding in 2010. “Weibo is changing the structure of the public opinions in China. In the past, the public agenda or hot topics were decided by the elite and by the journalists.

The public cared about what they cared about. But right now, the situation is changing. Weibo has conquered the dominant position in shaping public opinion,” Shanghai Jiaotong University professor Xie Gengyun told the Post.

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