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Popular Chinese Apps – Weibo

Sina Weibo, often dubbed “China’s Twitter”, is one of China’s largest and most popular social media platforms. Just like Bilibili, which we covered in a different blog post, it was launched in 2009 by Sina Corporation – hence the name Sina Weibo, although it is more popularly known as just ‘Weibo.’  Despite the nickname, Weibo is more than just a replica of Twitter or a microblog platform. It’s a social media tool that combines rich multimedia information and resource sharing, varied idea exchange, and online conversation. 

Weibo users can read or share nearly any form of the resource after logging in, including images, GIF animations, movies, audios, text, and so on, all without having to leave the app. There are no video length limits or text post character limits. Since it’s so full of features, celebrities, politicians, and other household names with multiple millions of followers have special abilities to host Q&A sessions, polls, livestream videos, and assign super fans. Weibo groups are forum-like communities that allow users to see focused content and engage in online discussion with anyone who shares the same interest.  

Weibo’s size and features naturally means that a lot of new terms have sprung up because of it.  For example, the Weibo Hot Search List (热搜榜) depicts the popularity ranking of the top 50 searched hashtags in real-time. This dynamic and organic ranking makes Weibo different from other platforms and serves as a way of helping people explore content beyond what they normally search for, breaking the “echo chambers” social media often creates.  


Another new term is the super active Weibo users who have given themselves an intriguing name – “Onlookers” (吃瓜群众). It refers to a group of Internet users who spend their free time on Weibo, keeping up with the latest searches and events, and actively participating in public discussions and leaving comments. They are always eager to discover the truth about any incident, to gossip, and to leave derisive comments. It’s satisfying to these people, much like eating watermelon in the height of summer, which is where the Chinese name originates from. In Chinese, it literally means “Crowd of Watermelon-eaters.” 


Some other phrases include “Big V” and “Internet Famous.” Those whose posts often go viral and or are involved in promotion on Weibo are referred to as “Big V” (V) members. The V stands for VIP. On Weibo, there are clear VIP icons in various colors at the bottom right of their avatar. To become a Weibo Big V, you must have at least 500K followers and be confirmed by the platform. 

There is also “Internet Famous” (网红). Just like on other social media platforms around the world, Internet Famous people are usually not professional singers or actors, but may be models, skilled performers, photographers, comedians, and other content creators with a high number of followers.  


Weibo’s slogan is “Find the latest and the most comprehensive information here and learn about the up-to-date trend you’re following…Weibo will guide you through every splendid moment all over the world, and show you every story behind the screen. Share anything you want, let the whole world hear your voice.” We think TBC is also like that! We are committed to sharing moments with students from all over the world and helping our community amplify each other. TBC also has a Weibo account, sharing the beautiful scenery in UIBE and useful tips for English learning, among other things. Click here to follow our Weibo!