Move over Twitter, Chinese microblogging service Sina Weibo has once again surpassed Twitter’s own record for posts per minute. The service racked up 731,102 Weibo posts during the first minute of the new lunar year, according to Sina itself (Google Translate), as Web users across the country raced to celebrate the coming of the year of the snake.
Equally as impressive is that the service saw 34,997 posts during the first second of the New Year alone, as Tech In Asia points out. That compares pretty favorably to the previous year, when Weibo clocked 32,312 posts per second at peak and 481,207 messages were sent during the first minute.
Twitter published its statistics for (the Gregorian) New Year 2013 and, at its highest, the microblogging site saw 33,388 tweets per second. That gives an idea of just how active Sina Weibo’s 400 million plus registered users are. Weibo itself saw 729,571 messages sent over the Western New Year.
It is worth pointing out, for those that have never used Weibo (which means microblog in Chinese) that higher engagement is likely since users can post comments in response to updates (‘tweets’) — in a similar way to blog post comments. That naturally encourages a greater amount of activity, but near 750,000 posts in a minute is clearly impressive all the same.
The new numbers are a real boon for Sina since they come at a time when its Weibo service is under increasing pressure from rival Tencent‘s mobile messaging app WeChat (known as Weixin in China). The app, which has more than 300 million registered users, is a little like WhatsApp but it offers a far richer set of features, which include VoIP phone calls, Skype-like video calling, group voice calls, branded marketing channels and more.
Sina CEO Charles Chao recently admitted to investors that the growth of WeChat is eating into the average user session on Weibo. However, based on these new figures and its continued growth in sign-ups, Weibo may be under-pressure but it very much remains a key Internet service in China.
Weibo attracted widespread international attention in 2011 when citizens used it to broadcast images from a rail crash in the country. Since news emerged before the government reported the tragedy, Weibo effectively prevented the government from covering up the incident or censoring the details.
These days, a range of Chinese authorities use the platform to broadcast news and updates, but Sina’s own in-house team combs the service for messages that are deemed ‘unsuitable’ for China, wary that the government may take a dim view of it housing certain opinions and news. Hot political potatoes often emerge from Weibo only to be ‘hidden’ when Sina deletes posts and comments or removes controversial search topics from its trending lists.
Weibo has faced much government intervention and it is coming up to a year since it was forced to introduce mandatory ‘real name’ verification in a bid to make users accountable for the content that they post to the service. The government went so far as to shut off the service’s comment feature after ruling that the service had encouraged the spreading of coup rumors.
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