Feeds

Twitter's Chinese foe is home to social media zombies

More than half of Sina Weibo accounts inactive or unoriginal

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

China’s social networks may not be as social as was first thought, after a new sample study found that over half of accounts on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo are inactive while fewer than 15 per cent of active accounts feature original posts.

Hong Kong University researchers were keen to find out the truth about weibo, arguing that non-random sampling in previous studies may have skewed results.

To compile their report - Reality Check for the Chinese Microblog Space: A Random Sampling Approach – a developer account was first granted by Sina Weibo thanks to which they could obtain user data through the site’s API.

Using a combination of programs and scripts querying the API, the team obtained data on just shy of 30,000 accounts and monitored them for seven days.

It found 57.4 per cent of account timelines were empty – pointing to either inactive or zombie accounts – and of those which could be called ‘active’, 86.9 per cent did not make an original post in the study period. Moreover, just 0.51 per cent wrote twenty or more original posts, while 0.45 per cent re-posted original updates during the seven days.

It added the following:

A small group of microbloggers created a majority of contents and drew other users’ attention. About 4.8 per cent of the 12,774 [‘active’] users contributed more than 80 per cent of the original posts and about 4.8 per cent managed to create posts that were reposted or received comments at least once.

The findings, spotted by Wall Street Journal, are certainly not watertight but represent one of the best attempts so far to assess the real popularity of such services in China.

Sina Weibo is believed to be the country’s largest microblogging platform with the company last month claiming that it had 503 million registered users at the end of 2012.

Despite being heavily censored, Sina Weibo and rival services from the likes of Tencent, Sohu and others are often lauded for their ability to effect genuine social change and for allowing – to a limited extent – the free flow of online information in one of the world’s most regulated socities.

While the report doesn’t necessarily contradict this – after all many of those ‘inactive’ users may still be observing the conversations happening on the service – it does seem to indicate that discourse flowing across the site is controlled by a very small percentage of users.

If 57.4 per cent of the entire Sina Weibo user base were not to contribute, this would only leave around 214m active users on the site as of the end of December. Ironically, that’s around the same number of actives as Twitter – which also claims to have passed 500m registered users – says it has.

As Sina Weibo and its rival microblog operators get more serious about implementing the government mandated real-name registration rules, there may be a shake-out of zombie and other inactive accounts that would make a big difference to future research of this sort. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
PwC says US biz lagging in Internet of Things
Grass is greener in Asia, say the sensors
Ofcom sees RISE OF THE MACHINE-to-machine cell comms
Study spots 9% growth in IoT m2m mobile data connections
O2 vs Vodafone: Mobe firms grab for GCHQ, gov.uk security badge
No, the spooks love US best, say rival firms
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.