Gegao's Blog

‘Facebook phenomenon’ in China

Posted on: July 30, 2010

Nowadays if you do not have a Facebook account, you will be regarded as “out”. This is a Chinese way of saying “you are out of fashion”. Facebook is a social networking website, with more than 500 million active users in July 2010. Basically every individual of this “global village’ can be a potential participant of Facebook if you have access to Internet.

Chinese government has strict Internet accessing censorship, the use Facebook is banned in China. However, this cannot stop Chinese establishing “RenRen”-a Chinese version of Facebook. Strictly speaking, Renren is a duplicate of Facebook, which shares the exact web layout, online games, instant messages and all sorts of functions, such as sharing photos, adding friends and so on.

Since the age group of potential customers of ‘Renren’ is between 15 to 30, a lot of Chinese entertainment celebrities choose ‘Renren’ as a platform to present themselves. Please note here that those celebrities who use ‘Renren’ only limited to entertainment celebrities. Chinese political celebrities never use online social network to publicize themselves. In China, mass entertainment is seen as ‘low culture’, and politicians will be regarded as “lower their social status or aura” if they use ‘Renren’.

However, in mass entertainment industry, ‘Renren’ is highly welcomed by celebrities. For my understanding, these celebrities use ‘Renren’ more as a personal blog (to show themselves), rather than a conduit to make more friends and participate interactively. It is obvious to find out that publicists are hired for establishing each celebrity’s ‘Renren’. The tone is expressed in a very “official” way, and only good news will be published on the website. From my point of view, celebrity use ‘Renren’ more as a ‘live promoting tool’.

This phenomenon is more obvious to be found out from those “not-so-famous celebrities” websites. Since these people cannot attract mass media coverage, such as from TV, radio and newspaper, using ‘Renren’ is the cheapest and effective way to expose themselves to the public.

What I am suggesting here is that ‘Renren’ has been widely adopted by Chinese people for different purposes. It is much better if we can build up a trustful relationship with celebrities by reading their ‘real life stories’, just as friends to friends.


3 Responses to "‘Facebook phenomenon’ in China"

This brings up the issue of Internet control and censorship. If people demand something, they will find ways to get it. Why doesn’t the government block Renren? Isn’t the same as Facebook?

what you have mentioned above is really interesting. I am still not sure why Renren is not banned by Chinese government. How i interpret this is since information flow freely in Facebook, there is no way to control the consumption of information if Chinese government do not censor Facebook. Also, the access of Wikipedia is also restricted.

What i do know is the post will be filtered/deleted by the system if it contained “inappropriate” messages. In the worse situation, your will not have access to your account.

[…] would have outranked them all if Facebook wasn’t banned in China or out of fashion, as GeGao writes, and Japan would have beat UK if Facebook could compete with the culturally appropriate Mixi. But I […]

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