I’ve chosen to focus my second blog on the social roles held by Weibo using a case study of a significant news item that occurred in 2011 on the Weibo platform.
Microblogging is a social communication based on weak relationships. Weibo’s objective is not to reflect real relationships that exit in real society, but better promote the connection between users by posting interesting news and information to followers who might be interested in a particular topic.
2009 saw a nationwide police crackdown on human trafficking. Yu Jianrong, a prominent Chinese scholar, initiated a Weibo campaign in 2011 which brought the social issue of human trafficking back into the public eye. This campaign was called ‘Taking pictures to save child beggars in the street’ and involved Yu posting photographs of child beggars who may have been trafficked in the hope of reaching a wide audience, and thus an effective way to raise awareness of child begging and might even assist in reuniting families. This added immense social pressure against the trafficking of children and citizens were called upon to take pictures of children they saw begging on the street and share them on Weibo so they could be matched with a police database or recognised by parents. The campaign reached its peak when it helped a father find his son who’d been abducted three years earlier. This case shows the power an individual can exert through microblogging sites like Weibo, and demonstrates how these platforms can be a launch pad for opinion leaders when using media technology to set social agendas. In this case, words and ideas was put into practice and with the engagement and cooperation of citizens and government bodies such as the police, this resulted in reaching worthy goal for society.
The development of Weibo has been supported by many socially significant events through its participation in different social issues. Weibo is the most active medium in China due to the large amount of support from citizens who join in on the conversation and have a chance to see society as a whole and the changes that take place. Weibo has allowed Chinese citizens to expand the dialogue and content boundary and provides an avenue of being involved in civic journalist.