China’s Sina Weibo incorporates Facebook registration as it targets overseas users

China’s Sina Weibo incorporates Facebook registration as it targets overseas users

Chinese microblogging platform Sina Weibo has introduced a new feature that allows users to sign up for a Weibo account through Facebook.

The feature was first spotted by Jeffrey Broer, CEO of the Hong Kong-based Sina Weibo-translation app Surround App.

When you log on to Weibo Taiwan or Weibo HK, you’ll notice the Facebook icon sitting prominently beside the registration and log-in options on the page.


By clicking on the Facebook icon and entering your Facebook account information, you’ll be taken to a page that lets you write on your Timeline to notify your friends that you are using Sina Weibo.


This appears to be the extent of the integration for the time being. However, in an article from Sina Taiwan, Sina states that users can cross-post status updates and audiovisual content from Sina Weibo to Facebook via its new Graph API. We’ve reached out to Sina Weibo for clarification on this matter.

The service is currently only available in Hong Kong and Taiwan, but Sina intends to expand to other territories in the future.

In the Sina Taiwan report, Su Zhenni, General Manager of Sina International, states that Sina Weibo is constantly optimizing its functionality, and that the Facebook integration simplifies the login process, widens the reach of Sina’s sharing capabilities, and represents a milestone in the platform’s march into international markets.

This feature is presumably not available for users in China, where Facebook is blocked by the Great Firewall.

Political issues aside, the move marks a curious decision as Sina Weibo matures as a platform. Following Alibaba’s investment in Sina Weibo, the social network’s recent efforts to optimize its mobile and social e-commerce offerings have come as no surprise. Past efforts to internationalize, however, have been half-hearted, and the platform remains notoriously insular and China-specific. Earlier this year the company unveiled a rudimentary English-language interface for Sina Weibo, but the project never fully materialized.

With this in mind, few can expect the platform to grow on an international scale any time soon. Still, even if Sina Weibo has some way to go before it spreads globally, there’s potential for the platform to grow within the Chinese-speaking world. In Hong Kong, Facebook is ranked #1 in traffic on Alexa, while Sina Weibo ranks sits in at #14. In Taiwan, Facebook is ranked #2, while Sina Weibo is ranked #44. Even if thoughts of censorship might dissuade non-mainland Chinese from actively using the service, Facebook incorporation at the very least opens the door for  increased engagement.

We’ve reached out to Sina Weibo for further comment and will update if additional details emerge.

Update: Sina has gotten back to us and confirmed the Sina Weibo’s integration with Facebook, but has not specified the extent of the cross-platform functionality.

Top image credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

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