A day after celebrating its third birthday, Sina’s Weibo microblog service appears to have quietly emerged from beta. Tech in Asia noticed on Wednesday that the beta label had been removed from the webpage, though Sina has yet to officially confirm the decision.
Sina didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Microblogging in China has been a sensitive subject that, like many things in the country, has been bent to the will of the government. At the time of writing, the other three major Weibo services, Tencent, Sohu and Netease, all remain in beta.
The fact that Sina is now branding itself as an official service is no small victory for the company. Though it remains to be seen whether the Chinese government will approve of the action, it’s unlikely that Sina made the decision without first checking with the relevant authorities, since doing so can have hefty consequences.
Sina has been criticized for being overly proactive in its censorship of the Weibo platform, but the sometimes heavy-handed censorship has also helped it remain mostly online, even during touchy political situations.
Though Weibo has grown to over 360 million users, Sina is struggling to monetize it as costs for the service continue to rise. The company has planned a dramatic redesign of the site for later this year that will add selective sharing. Alleged screenshots of the upcoming update show banner photos that bear a close resemblance to Facebook’s design.