140 of followers to join. What’s more, later
140 Words, A Revolution Feng Feng Sprouted from May 2007, “Weibo” gradually entered Chinese society following the “global storm” brought by “Twitter” in 2006. In August 2009, Sina Corporation launched the Sina Weibo, which allows users to post microblogs with a 140-word restriction. Later, Sina Weibo soon became the largest microblogging site in China and has gathered 200 million registered users currently. After Sina, many integrated sites, news sites, e-commerce sites, and SNS all established their own weibo. Weibo has brought remarkable changes to China on not only the communication channel but also the Chinese civil society development.It builds up a “microblogging” platform where the government, enterprises, media, citizens, and intellectuals can communicate directly, which is driving a “micro-revolution”.
Case Study: Save Begging Children with a Picture At the beginning of 2011, the famous scholar Yu Jianrong set up an account in Sina Weibo and titled it “Save Begging Children with a Picture”. According to the reality in China that many young children are kidnapped by human traffickers and forced to work as beggars in the urban districts, Yu advocated and encouraged his followers to take pictures of begging children they met and uploaded the photos to Weibo.He expected to help making these begging children seen by their parents and polices and thus got an opportunity to be saved. The non-governmental anti-trafficking action officially kicked off and attracted tens of thousands of followers to join. What’s more, later it got concerns from the Ministry of Public Security and the director of the Department of Anti-trafficking, Chen Shiqu, responded through his weibo “For each clue, the Ministry will be responsible of verification. ” Many local police offices also announced through weibo that they would investigate thoroughly on begging children issues.
Finally, a individual non-government action turned out to be a cooperation among internet users, the Ministry of Public Security, Deputies to People’s Congress, CPPCC members, charitable foundations and other social forces. The action was appraised by the “People’s Daily”, the most influential newspaper in China, as “a typical citizen action in the Internet era”. Power of Weibo * The fission effect One of the most attractive features of weibo platform is providing users with open dialogue and wide information.
It attracts participants throughout the various areas, industries, regions, classes and so on. And many public figures including Deputies of the People’s Congress, experts and scholars, celebrities are also involved and got real-name registered. It is these public figures that push speeding up the dissemination of information with a “fission effect” because of their strong appeal in the public and millions of followers.
The action “save beggaing children with a picture” proved the huge “fission effect” on information dissemination in the weibo.Initiated by a public figure and then broadly forwarded by other public figures, the action finally got concerns and participation of tens of thousands of internet uses and was promoted to be an influential public activity. More than 7000 photoes of begging children were published in a month, and several local police offices, media and foundations actively participated into it to help contacting families of these children and rescuing them from the traffickers. * Carrier of public opinionsAccording to the “Assessment Report of China’s social capacity in responding public opinoins”, weibo has shown its power as a new communication channel, which is developing to be an effective one for different public opinions to communicate between individuals and coporates. It breaks monopoly of traditional media on public opinion and makes itself a place to form, release and transmit public opinions through broad discussion among users. In particular, many local governments set up their official weibo such as “Weibo Yunnan” of Yunnan province, which is the first government weibo.
And through the platform of weibo, the public opinions are able to be gathered directly by the decision-making departments and persons. In the case to rescue begging children, the activity was greatly promoted by advices and idears from internet users on how to improve aid efficiency, how to prevent the human trafficklers from kidnapping more children, and what punishment should be given once criminals arrested. In Jannuary 28, 2011, Chen Shiqu, the director of the Department of Anti-trafficklers under the Ministry ofPublic Security (MPS), followed the weibo, after reading the comments from internet users, he publicly responded that the MPS will start investigating begging children. In February 3, “One Foundation”, built by the movie star Jet Li, announced to fund building database and relief operations system for these children. Following with the increasing influences, several deputies of the People’s Congress and members of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference followed the weibo and planned to raise a proposal towards the crime in the National People’s Congress.And later in February 7, the famous singer as well as a deputy of the People’s Congress, Han Hong promised to the public that the preparation work for the proposal has been set up.
* Reformation on agenda setting model Several characters including real-time, grassroot constituted and interactive platform of weibo builds it a possible to promote the “citizen journalism”, which makes everyone a potential publisher of information and news, and makes users decide the hot topics to concern.Under the traditional media environment, the agenda setting trend always work as “Media Agenda > Public Agenda > Policy Agenda”, when the choosing right of hot topics were mostly grasped by the professional journalists. And for the public, they passively accept the media agenda in the most of time.
However, as observed in weibo, the agenda setting trend shifts to “Public Agenda> Media Agenda > Policy Agenda” where the rights to determine hot topics belong to the weibo users. And once determined, the hot topics will be published by the traditional media.The reformation on the agenda setting makes the agenda better representitive of the public opinions and also activate the desire of the citizens to participate into the public affairs. Conclusion After the born of weibo in China, the “Southern Weekly”, a famous Chinese newspaper commented on the weibo phenomenon “Concerns make a difference”.
And through the begging children rescue activity, we have found some proof of it. Although there is still a long road for China to explore to build itself a civil society, weibo has brought some hope.