China’s Internet growth challenges country’s political elite
2011 was also a year that saw the increasing social might of Chinese microblogs, Twitter-like engines of public opinion that often challenged the authority of state-sanctioned news. The number of microblog users quadrupled last year to nearly 250 million, the China Internet Network Information Center said in its recent report.
Known in China as weibo, microblogs enable users to post short messages with links that can then be read by subscribers. Their speed and scope creates difficulties for government censors, who have had more success blocking foreign websites including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter using filters, often called the Great Firewall of China.
Microblogs were instrumental last year in exposing government mishandling of a deadly high-speed rail collision in the eastern city of Wenzhou and alleged corruption in the southern village of Wukan.