CHINA—Mainland Chinese may not be able to access Facebook or Twitter, but that doesn’t mean they can’t access microblogging profiles belonging to Western stars and athletes, or even porn stars. It is all courtesy of the country’s own Twitter-like sites, called weibo, or “microblog” in Chinese. While the sites themselves are not new, their explosive growth is simply staggering.
One such site, Tencent Weibo, now claims 233 million registered users. Its competitor, Sino Weibo, claims over 200 million registered users. By contrast, the actual number of current Twitter users, while unknown due to some mixed messages, appears to be somewhere between 200 million and 360 million.
That rate of adoption is attracting the attention of some pretty big Western names, including British rock band Radiohead and actor Tom Cruise, who opened his Sino Weibo account this February. Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo also has an account, according to CNN International, which reported that the Real Madrid sensation “is the latest to start his own Chinese microblogging site to build an online presence in the world’s second largest economy.” Ronaldo posted several pictures to his Tencent Weibo profile yesterday showing action in a recent match against Lyon.
As AVN reported last April, Japanese porn star Sora Aoi, also known as Sola Aoi, has a Sina Weibo account she opened March 30, 2010. Within a month or so, she had 30,000 followers. According to CNN International, however, the Asian beauty now claims 7 million followers, an adoption ratio we could not even begin to calculate.
Her success rate in China is amazing, but not out of the ordinary for a country that has half a trillion people online. On Sina Weibo, according to CNN, the NBA has more than 8 million fans, while on Twitter they can boast just over 3 million.