The most popular of China’s microblogging services Sina Weibo, saw record traffic over the Chinese New Year. According to Chinese tech site Do News, an average of 32 312 messages were sent per second, while 481 207 messages were sent during the first minute of the year.
This smashes Twitter’s record 25 088 tweets per second — achieved when Japanese users took to the social network en-masse during a national TV broadcast of the classic Anime series Castle in the Sky.
According to The Next Web, the volume of messages sent this New Year, “is three times higher than the number recorded last year”. This is consistent with the massive growth in the Sina Weibo, and its rival Tencent Weibo, that Chinese media has been reporting.
In late 2011, state authorities reported that some 300-million Chinese citizens were active Weibo users. According to the most recent China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) report, Weibo use increased by around 296% in 2011.
Do News reports that Sina Weibo, which has mirrored the success of Twitter in a number of critical areas, remains neck and neck with its Western rival. Like Twitter, it has around 250-million users, 100-million of whom are active.
The increasing popularity of the weibos has, however, meant that Chinese authorities have had a hard time keeping the same tight level of control they’ve become accustomed to. This means the microblogging platforms have become a key tool for protesting political corruption and poor disaster management by state authorities.
In the wake of this kind of political action, authorities have only sought to crack down even further on those deemed to be spreading what they call false rumours on the microblogging platforms. There have even been reports of people being hunted down and arrested after their posts were spotted online.
At present, it remains unclear whether such actions will dampen the enthusiasm that the Chinese citizenry has for the weibos.