At 500 million users and growing, China’s Internet market is the world’s largest. But China’s cyberspace is also one of the most restricted, with many sites blocked and censors monitoring what users say online.
Get on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, and you’ll be bombarded with 75 million messages each day.
According to its founder Charles Chao, the country’s number one micro-blogging site has about 200 million users and growing.
While most of them use it for social networking, others use it to track issues that matter.
But the micro-blog is being watched by the censors.
Popular micro-blogger Daniel Wu was shut down after flashing comments and pictures about government officials and their expensive watches.
Weibo’s founder, Charles Chao has warned that he’s stepping up censorship, as a result of increasingly unverified information being spread via the service.
But observers said such efforts are almost futile.
Although Facebook and Twitter are banned in China, one foreign social networking website managed to get over the Great Firewall.
Viadeo, the world’s largest non-English competitor to LinkedIn, operates its business through a local partner, Tianji, which has five million users.
Even though its users go online mainly for business networking, Tianji still has its internal censors keeping watch.
While the websites try to play by the rules and may be pressured to do so, online users appear to be unfazed by the censors, perhaps due to a relatively light-handed and limited policing on the online space so far.