aNewDomain.net — According to the latest stats, the Google+ social network — launched in 2011 — is No. 4 in the world. That’s impressive, but it’s still on the heels of two big Chinese networks, which hold slots two and three.
My theory: In 140 characters in Chinese you’re able to say three times as much. That explains, in addition to the sheer hugeness of the Chinese social network. That why Weibo, the micro blogging site, is such a huge part of the huge growth of China 3.0.
And Qzone leads the list in China among the 568 million internet users.
You’re able to give and tell and sell it all in Chinese. The social media brain is the same as in the West but, ah. It functions in different ways in China.
China and USA social media networks live and function in a parallel universe. Check out this infographic
Although some claim this is a flat globalized world, in practice world social networking giants do not interact much at all.
What unites USA 3.0 and China 3.0 is the level of surveillance…
The Chinese “Prism” and the American NSA PRISM surveillance program are competing in a new e-strategy that fits their political purposes.
We all are missing a huge opportunity to dialog and PRISM like tools are increasing the divide.
Clearly China has identified this threat from the USA — to exploit its big companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Cisco and so on.
This is the reason China not only deployed a great firewall, but also has come up with its own versions of Twitter and Facebook. China threw Google out and it now possesses the source code of Microsoft software.
Hence, an almost perfect defense has been set up by China. In its counter offensive, the opposite of the USA’s ex-filtrated information and forcing the user to sign the terms and conditions of US companies, China deployed complex web of spyware bots across the internet.
The internet has been divided by China into two Internets: the global Internet and the “Chinanet.”
During the past 15 years, the Chinese government has played an unconventional cat-and-mouse game with the country’s 500 million Internet users – the biggest population of netizens in the whole world. While the global Internet is censored in China, the parallel Chinanet is booming. The Chinese government blocks every Web 2.0 site but at the same time allowed the creation of a series of simulacrum websites:
Instead of Google you get have Baidu. Instead of Twitter you get Sina Weibo. Instead of Facebook you get Renren. And instead of YouTube you get Youku.
The Chinese approach to the Internet is simple: Block and clone. This is what some call “smart censorship.” Some Arab dictators — such as former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak — just shut down the Internet to prevent netizens
from criticizing government policies and leaders.
But he failed to understand something key — when people can’t go online they go out into the street. The Chinese approach is smarter. On the one hand, the Chinese government satisfies people’s need for a social network. On the other hand, it keeps the servers in Beijing so it can access the data whenever it wants.
This is the reason that Google pulled out of China: It could not accept the fact that the government wanted to gain and keep control of the servers in China.
But China’s so-called smart censorship hasn’t stopped the Chinanet from developing into a genuine public sphere – a true battlefield for public opinion and a nightmare for some Chinese officials. And China’s 300 million microbloggers — equivalent to the entire population of the United States – constitute a powerful force.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commmons.
So why is Chinese social networking booming despite the censorship? Part of the reason is the Chinese language. Posts on Twitter and Twitter clones such as Weibo are limited to 140 characters. In English that comes to about 20 words or
a sentence with a short link – in effect, a headline. But in Chinese you can write a whole paragraph or tell a whole story in 140 characters. One Chinese tweet is equal to 3.5 English tweets.
In some ways, Weibo — which means ‘microblog’ in Chinese — is more like Facebook than Twitter. And as far as the Chinese are concerned, if something is not on Weibo, it does not exist. Ponder.