8 extremely popular Chinese internet memes
Originally posted on TED Blog:
When it comes to the internet, the Chinese government may have taken inspiration from the Great Wall of China and created the largest digital boundary in the world, blocking 500 million users from accessing the global-standard social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. But blogger Michael Anti, whose real name is Jing Zhao, explains in a vivid talk given at TEDGlobal 2012 that the internet landscape of the world’s most populous country is far more complicated than that simple story. Chinese innovators have copycatted popular Western social media sites. While we have Google, China has Baidu. While we have Facebook, China has RenRen. While we have Twitter, China has Weibo — and 300 million microbloggers using it, as 140 characters allows for a full paragraph to be written in Chinese.
In his talk, Anti looks at some of the fascinating ways in which social media are changing Chinese life, and shifting the balance of power in the country. For example, after local authorities tried to cover up a train crash in Wenzhou in 2011, people took to social media sites to criticize the move. With more than 10 million messages about the cover-up visible for all to read, an official investigation was eventually launched. Anti also explains that on Weibo, people regularly tweet their misfortunes, waiting for them to be picked up by popular micobloggers and shared widely.