China now world’s largest online population

Last year the number of internet users grew by 56 million. The number of online users in China soared to well over half a billion, making this the country with the world’s largest online population. Of these 513 million users, 50% microblog, known as weibos to the Chinese.

According to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), China’s online population rose to 513 million in 2011, which is a 12.2% increase from 2010.

In 2010, 63.1 million users had a Weibos account. By 2011, 250 million people (or 48.7% of the online population in China) had either signed up or continued to enjoy a personal or corporate microblog. In a country subjected to fairly brutal online censorship laws, the government will face an uphill battle to control them.

Weibos can be compared to Twitter in terms of function. Twitter is banned in China, therefore the weibos become the most-used medium for online users who were desperate to voice their opinions.

According to the CNNIC, the number of users who communicate via web forums, blogs and emails has sharply dropped. The report also states that Chinese people between the ages of 10 to 29 years of age are the most active on the internet. It also notes that the older generations need to be educated on how to use the internet.

CNNIC has said that the number of rural internet users grew by 8.9% to a healthy 136 million users. In the poorest area in China, Guizhou, only 24.2% of the population managed to get online. This is in stark contrast to Beijing, where 70% of the population is active online.

The statistics from the CNNIC may be overly inflated according to sources. These same sources noted that the CNNIC defines an internet user as a person aged six and above that has been active online within the past six months.



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