China social media site Weibo is attracting a lot of attention from non-Chinese, particularly westerners. And it is well worth while for those interested in the region to pay attention to this window into popular opinion in China.
Ezine Business Insider suggests that westerners would do well to actually join the social networking site and provides what they call ” 7 good reasons for joining”:
1. It’s huge, and will probably get even bigger
2. It’s a window into what people think in China
3. It’s a window into Chinese government censorship
4. Weibo users are ingenious at getting around this censorship
5. The fascinating power of the “human flesh engine”
6. It’s actually really good
7. An English-language version is in the works
These reasons are expanded on below but it is a good point that Weibo and other social media sites have a multi faceted role in the social order. They provide information, reflect and can steer public opinion, affect official decisions and policy, expose corruption and finally and most importantly give a voice to those who would otherwise keep silent.
If China is to evolve into a democratic, open society peacefully then social media is likely to be the vehicle. The alternatives of revolution or social upheaval are too awful to contemplate.