Archive for ‘social media’


Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to Meet Modi in India – India Real Time – WSJ

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, will visit India next week to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and take part in a summit to find ways to get more people online–and probably signed up for his website.

India has around 200 million Internet users, a tiny fraction of its 1.2 billion population, and just over half of them have Facebook profiles. Mr. Modi is one of India’s most social-media savvy politicians and used Facebook and Twitter TWTR -3.04% heavily during his campaign ahead of elections which took place in April and May. But Internet use in general in India is still a minority affair with only 15% of the population online.

A report by McKinsey published Wednesday ahead of the summit which begins next Thursday said that between 2012 and 2013, the number of Internet users in India grew 22% compared to 9% growth in China and 7% increase in the U.S. over the same period. Over half (59%) of Internet users in India use mobile phones rather than computers to get online.

But, like Egypt, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, India faces infrastructure challenges to getting more people online, the report said.

Almost half (45%) of the huge rural population has no access to electricity and further up the chain, the country is only in the early stages of deploying 3G networks.

There are some bright spots on the horizon for Internet usage in India however. The report says that India’s huge young population–around one in three people is currently aged under 15–will push the country online.

“We expect this younger age segment to be a significant driver of Internet adoption in developing countries, given their generally greater familiarity with technology and willingness to adopt it,” the report said.

via Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to Meet Modi in India – India Real Time – WSJ.


Chinese City Launches Special Lane for Cellphone Addicts – China Real Time Report – WSJ

If you’re tired of walking behind someone who’s trudging along as they text, has this Chinese city got the sidewalk for you.

Last week, the city of Chongqing unveiled a lane specially designated for people who want to walk as they use their cellphones. “Cellphones, walk in this lane at your own risk” is printed in the lane in white lettering. The adjoining lane reads “No cellphones.”

On Monday, Weibo users reacted to the news with a mixture of amusement and scorn. “It’s such a lazy design. Shouldn’t the cellphone lane be placed [farther from the road]? It is not practical at all,” wrote one user.

Another dismissed the innovation, writing, “It’s just another imitation of foreign inventions,” the user wrote, referring to a similar experiment launched in Washington, D.C., earlier this year. “Besides, it seems only to be serving as a tourist attraction,” the user wrote of the road, which is located in a Chongqing tourist area called “Foreign Street Park.”

Still another wondered whether the road would make anything safer. “Is the goal here to encourage still more people to use their cellphones while walking?”

via Chinese City Launches Special Lane for Cellphone Addicts – China Real Time Report – WSJ.


BBC News – India police use WhatsApp to trace missing boy

A missing 11-year-old boy in India has been found after he was spotted by a member of the public who received a WhatsApp alert sent out by police.

Police message on the missing boy

Police in the northern town of Bareilly say they used the instant messaging service to send out the boy’s photo to several mobile phones in the area.

A man travelling on a train, who had received the alert, recognised the boy sitting near him and called the police.

India has more than 900 million mobile users and WhatsApp is hugely popular.

The app, used by more than 400 million people globally every month, was bought by social networking site Facebook recently for $19bn (£12bn).

via BBC News – India police use WhatsApp to trace missing boy.

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The internet: From Weibo to WeChat | The Economist

WHEN Luo Changping, an investigative journalist, tried on November 22nd to post the latest chapter of his big scoop on WeChat, a popular Chinese mobile messaging service, censors blocked it. But he was able to work round them. In a follow-up message he told his subscribers they could send him the words “Chapter Seventeen”; users who did so automatically received the post on their mobile phones, uncensored.

WeChat, or Weixin in Chinese, is known mostly for private chatting and innocuous photo-sharing among small circles of friends. With more than 270m active users, it has become the star product from Tencent, an internet conglomerate. Some have compared it to WhatsApp, an American messaging service. More quietly, it has become the preferred medium for provocative online discussion—the latest move in China’s cat-and-mouse game of internet expression and censorship.


Mr Luo began posting his serialised stories on WeChat in May. They related how he had exposed the alleged corruption of Liu Tienan, a senior economic official. He had tried tweeting them on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like microblog on which he had accused Mr Liu of corruption months earlier, but internet censors blocked him from doing so: hence his switch to WeChat. Though his initial attempts there were also blocked, the loophole that enabled him to send out the file is typical of WeChat’s more relaxed approach to censorship.

A WeChat account works much less publicly than accounts on microblogs (of which Sina Weibo is the most prominent). Anyone using Sina Weibo can see almost anyone else’s tweets and forward them on, meaning a single tweet can spread very quickly. On WeChat, it is usually only subscribers to a public account who will see a post (though such posts may also be viewed on a separate web page), and if a subscriber forwards a post, only that subscriber’s circle of friends see it. Its non-public accounts are even less open. Information on WeChat spreads at such a slow burn that authorities feel they have more control over it. Also in contrast to microblogs, many types of public account (like Mr Luo’s) can send out only one post to subscribers a day, making them much easier for authorities to monitor.

Mr Luo does not always have problems sending out his stories on WeChat and, since switching to the service, he has posted the equivalent of a blog post every week or two, and built a following of more than 60,000—“higher than the actual subscription figure of many Chinese magazines”, he says. WeChat is now his prime delivery platform for newsy titbits, including sensitive information that would be censored more rigorously on microblogs. (He has not published for Caijing magazine, his former employer, since being transferred in November to a non-reporting position at an affiliated research institute.) Meanwhile, he makes much less use of his Sina Weibo account, even though it has more than four times as many followers: “The ground for public opinion has begun to shift toward WeChat,” he says.

The rise of WeChat is a business phenomenon in its own right (see article). But it is also a measure of how adaptive and resilient China’s political and social discourse has become—almost as adaptive as the censorship regime that seeks to contain it. Recently a number of public intellectuals have lamented the decline of meaningful discussion on weibo. The microblogs were full of user-led activism in 2012 but, starting in 2013, officials have dramatically escalated their efforts to control them. Propaganda outlets have intensified attacks on the spread of rumours online, authorities browbeat online celebrities to be “more responsible” (at least two have been arrested on unrelated charges), and microbloggers can now be jailed for up to three years for tweeting false information that is forwarded 500 times or viewed 5,000 times. President Xi Jinping, in a speech to party leaders in August, said that the internet was the prime battleground in the fight over public opinion, and that officials must seize control of it.

via The internet: From Weibo to WeChat | The Economist.

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Tale of Xi’s dumplings draws crowd |Society |

\”A president\’s set meal,\” said Sun Zhengcai as he waited to be served at the Qing Feng Steamed Dumpling Shop in Beijing\’s Xicheng district.

Tale of Xi's dumplings draws crowd

Just two days earlier, on Saturday, President Xi Jinping had dropped in unexpectedly for lunch, and fame of his visit had spread far and wide.

Sun, a 33-year-old ex-soldier, could have been home on Monday if he had taken a train from Weifang, Shandong province, where he had been on a business trip, straight to Liaoning province. But he chose to change trains in Beijing with his five boxes of green turnips, making the trip six hours longer and more than 200 yuan ($33) more expensive.

Sun spent 50 yuan to store his 25 kg of turnips at the station and arrived at the shop at about noon to join a line more than 50 meters long.

After waiting for nearly half an hour, he took his \”president\’s meal\” and went to the table at which Xi had sat — where Sun joined another line to wait for a chance to sit in Xi\’s seat and have his photo taken there.

Sun then quickly moved to another table because of the large number of people who were waiting their turn to be photographed at Xi\’s table.

The first thing Sun did, however, was not to start enjoying the dumpling stuffed with pork and green onions, but to upload to WeChat, a mobile social networking app, the photo he had asked another customer to take of him.

\”The greatest honor I had during my stay in Beijing was to have a set meal of the president,\” he said in the photo.

After getting one more photo of himself in front of the shop, Sun hurried back to the train station.

\”I usually don\’t eat dumplings, but I finished all of them, just as President Xi did,\” Sun said. \”His deed showed that he is a man of the people,\” Sun added. \”I feel more confident in building a strong China under his leadership.\”

Pan Xinxin, 27, a postgraduate student at the Central University of Finance and Economics, also decided to come to taste the same meal Xi had ordered after hearing of the president\’s visit.

\”President Xi\’s deed makes me feel he is quite close to the young and not reserved, and this makes us like him very much,\” Pan said.

Pan decided to visit the restaurant because it is \”affordable\” and \”it\’s a place we can experience firsthand\”.

According to an online post from Baidu, the largest search engine in China, the term \”Qing Feng Steamed Dumpling Shop\” had been searched for 33,317 times on Saturday.

via Tale of Xi’s dumplings draws crowd |Society |

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China employs two million microblog monitors state media say – BBC News

More than two million people in China are employed by the government to monitor web activity, state media say, providing a rare glimpse into how the state tries to control the internet.

Sina Weibo

The Beijing News says the monitors, described as internet opinion analysts, are on state and commercial payrolls.

China’s hundreds of millions of web users increasingly use microblogs to criticise the state or vent anger.

Recent research suggested Chinese censors actively target social media.

The report by the Beijing News said that these monitors were not required to delete postings.


China’s internet is one of the most controlled and censored in the world.

Websites deemed to be subversive are blocked. Politically sensitive postings are routinely deleted . Even the name of the former Prime Minister Wen Jiabao was censored when rumours were circulating on the internet that his family had amassed a fortune while he was in power.

But with the rapid growth of internet users, the ruling Communist Party has found itself fighting an uphill battle.

The Beijing News, while reporting the story of microblog monitors, has admitted that it is impossible for the government to delete all “undesirable” postings.

The more postings deleted, the more they appear, it says.

China seldom reveals details about how it monitors and controls the internet. The government even does not acknowledge that it blocks web sites.

But the report does offer a rare glimpse into this opaque world.

They are “strictly to gather and analyse public opinions on microblog sites and compile reports for decision-makers”, it said. It also added details about how some of these monitors work.

Tang Xiaotao has been working as a monitor for less than six months, the report says, without revealing where he works.

“He sits in front of a PC every day, and opening up an application, he types in key words which are specified by clients.

“He then monitors negative opinions related to the clients, and gathers (them) and compile reports and send them to the clients,” it says.

The reports says the software used in the office is even more advanced and supported by thousands of servers. It also monitors websites outside China.

China rarely reveals any details concerning the scale and sophistication of its internet police force.

It is believed that the two million internet monitors are part of a huge army which the government relies on to control the internet.

The government is also to organise training classes for them for the first time from 14 to 18 October, the paper says.

via BBC News – China employs two million microblog monitors state media say.

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Social media not a game changer in 2014 elections

Reuters: “Political parties in India are relying more on social media ahead of the 2014 election as a way of increasing voter support, even though politicians in general do not expect such efforts to significantly influence election results.

Parties are trying to ride the digital wave by conducting workshops to teach leaders and foot soldiers how to improve engagement on websites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The country of 1.2 billion people had around 165 million Internet users as of March, the third-largest in the world, according to data from India’s telecommunications regulator. But the number of social media users is likely to grow to about 80 million by mid-2014, a report released in February said.

For the Bharatiya Janata Party, India’s main opposition party, social media is helping as an “accelerator” in conveying their messages to the public.

“I don’t call it a game changer, but an accelerator in this election … it’s definitely setting a narrative, it is influencing a lot of people,” Arvind Gupta, head of the BJP’s IT division, said in an interview.

via India Insight.


China’s Bloggers Rally Around Bo Xilai

BusinessWeek: “Official China has been touting it as a breakthrough for government transparency. But has the decision to live blog the five-day trial of Bo Xilai, which closed Monday, backfired? That’s a relevant question as a flood of support for the charismatic former high-flying princeling has erupted on China’s Internet.

Former Chinese politician Bo Xilai speaks in a court room at Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, eastern China's Shandong province, on Aug. 25

China posted portions of the five days of court proceedings in Jinan, Shandong Province, on Sina Weibo (SINA), China’s largest microblogging site. Chinese checking out the trial online got to see an unusually spirited defense put up by the 64-year-old Bo, the former head of China’s southwestern megalopolis Chongqing who almost made it into the top echelons of the Chinese leadership.

The decision to show the trial online demonstrates an admirable new candor, according to state-run media. “The public hearing and the Weibo broadcasts reflect the transparency and openness of the country’s rule of law,” said a commentary on the website of China’s official party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, on Aug. 22.

STORY: Can Bo Xilai Be China’s Comeback Kid?

But that’s not the takeaway for everyone. Instead, many on the Web have written of a newfound admiration for Bo, who has been charged with bribery, embezzlement, and abuse of power (the verdict—likely harsh—will come later, at a time still unspecified),and who fell from official grace last year after a murder perpetrated by his wife came to light.

“I’ve changed my view of him! He is much more gentlemanly than those with power and he really does know the law,” said one tweet by blogger He Jiangbing on Sina Weibo, translated by blog Tea Leaf Nation, which monitors China’s Internet. “This man has remarkable logic, eloquence and memory. As someone who likes smart people, for a moment I almost forgot about his avarice, evilness and ruthlessness,” wrote another microblogger, also on Sina Weibo.

While the decision to tweet key parts of the trial has indeed surprised many, others are less impressed. “The selective postings can only show selective openness and selective justice, and cannot be said to represent the truth,” said Liu Wanqiang, a Guangxi-based journalist, reported the BBC on its website on Aug. 22.

VIDEO: Can Bo Xilai’s Trial Change China’s Government?

In contrast, way back in 1976, the trial of Mao’s widow Jiang Qing, a member of the so-called Gang of Four, was shown live on television for all to view. While few Chinese then had their own TV sets, much of the population gathered communally around televisions to watch and discuss the live proceedings.

Beijing over the past week has launched a crackdown on spreading rumors on the Internet, which some fear will be used to squelch online free speech. Already authorities have announced arrests, including the detention of a muckraking journalist for “criminal fabrication and dissemination of rumors online,” reported the official English language China Daily on Aug. 26. Interestingly, little effort appears to have been made so far to scrub the Internet of the pro-Bo commentary.

“China is a country that respects and protects free speech, but people should also bear in mind that greater online freedom is guaranteed by greater responsibility,” stated the official Xinhua News Agency in a piece calling for greater efforts to police the Web on Aug. 21. “People should maintain moral principles and denounce any activities that harm the reputation and interests of others so as to stop the Internet from decaying into a land of abusive language and rumors.””

via China’s Bloggers Rally Around Bo Xilai – Businessweek.


China’s Smartphone Generation

BusinessWeek: “Every day at noon, workers spill out through the red gates of the Xue Fulan garment factory on the outskirts of Beijing to enjoy one precious hour of lunchtime freedom. They are mostly in their late teens or early 20s, living in no-frills dormitories within the factory complex. Most saunter out on a hot summer day with a water bottle in one hand and a smartphone in the other.

Commuters use their phones riding a Metro train in Shenzhen City, China

While personal computers are rare inside the factory, many of these young migrant workers—who are just climbing onto the lowest rung of the urban economic ladder—are now on the Internet daily. With 12-hour workdays, their free hours are scarce, but they still find time to use social media and dating apps, play video games, and read lifestyle and news sites, where they can catch a glimpse of the upscale urban life they aspire to.

Last week the government-affiliated China Internet Network Information Center reported that 591 million people in China now have Internet access; that’s 45 percent of the population. Just six years ago, only 16 percent of China’s population was online. Among the drivers of the steep rise in Internet penetration: the rapid adoption of Internet-enabled mobile devices, especially among groups that previously lacked regular connectivity, including China’s migrant workers. More than three-quarters of China’s netizens (464 million people) now use a mobile Internet device—instead of, or in addition to, a laptop or PC.

Kantar Media, a U.K.-based global consumer research and consulting firm, polled nearly 100,000 Chinese Internet users about their online habits and preferences in 2012 and just released its analysis of the study: 59 percent of respondents said that online chat and dating were their favorite uses of the mobile Internet, while 43 percent described themselves as “frequent” users of social media. Notably, the number of Chinese netizens who claimed they had visited a social media site in the past day was higher among mobile Internet users (32 percent) than among all netizens (26 percent). Weixin (“WeChat”), Tencent’s (700:HK) popular social-media app, is almost exclusively used on smartphones and tablets.

Megacity commutes are also correlated with more time online. In 2012, Chinese commuters who travelled more than one hour to work were three times as likely to go online daily as those whose commutes were under a half hour. As China’s large cities sprawl, traffic jams proliferate as well. Shen Ying, a general manager at CTR Media, Kantar Media’s joint-venture partner in China, believes that the “fragmentation of ‘social’ time created by longer commutes” goes hand in hand with the “desire for social networking.” Fortunately for China’s lonely subway passengers, Internet access on Beijing’s subway is more stable than on New York City’s.”

via China’s Smartphone Generation – Businessweek.


Knife attacks and bomb threats follow Beijing airport explosion

SCMP: “Several incidents of violence have been reported in Beijing in the aftermath of the attempted suicide by an aggrieved petitioner at the capital’s international airport on Saturday.


On Monday, a man armed with a knife went on a rampage at a Carrefour shopping centre, in Beijing’s western district, wounding at least four people. Police have arrested a Beijing-native surnamed Wang, born in 1963 at the scene, local police said in a statement.

One child was among those wounded, Beijing News reported on its microblog. The report did not say what triggered the attack.

Last Thursday, a knife-yielding man stabbed two people, including one US woman, to death, in a similar incident.

In two unrelated incidents, Beijing police arrested two men for “threatening to carry bombs and attempting to disturb social order” in the capital.

Four hours after petitioner Ji Zhongxing caused an explosion at Beijing Capital International Airport on Saturday, a 39-year-old man surnamed Wang from Beijing’s Miyun county threatened to set off explosives at a Beijing airport to protest against land seizures, according to a statement by Beijing police.

Only one hour later, a 31-year-old man surnamed Liu from Jiangsu province, threatened to detonate explosives at a video arcade, police said. Both men have since been arrested.

Many Chinese netizens blamed a “butterfly effect” and criticised the government for failing to address petitioners’ grievances. “If the government continues in its corrupt ways, everybody will become Ji Zhongxing,” said one Weibo user. “Using lives to protest is the last way for ordinary people to seek changes,” wrote another.

via Knife attacks and bomb threats follow Beijing airport explosion | South China Morning Post.

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