Chinese cyberspace is one of the most surveilled and censored in the world. That includes WeChat. Owned by Tencent, one of China’s biggest companies, the chat-meets-payment app has more than 1 billion monthly users in China and now serves users outside the country, too, although it does not divulge how many. Researchers say its use abroad has extended the global reach of China’s surveillance and censorship methods.
“The intention of keeping people safe by building these systems goes out the window the moment you don’t secure them at all,” says Victor Gevers, co-founder of the nonprofit GDI Foundation, an open-source data security collective.
Every day, Gevers scans the Internet for vulnerabilities to find unsecured databases, and he has exposed a large number of them, particularly linked to China.
Parallel running of two social media from different countries: WeChat and blog for international students
Our work with Chinese students from the Confucius Institute (CI) at St. Cloud State University (SCSU) shed light on an interesting development: in the last several years, the popular Chinese social media platform WeChat dominates the social life of Chinese people, Chinese students in particular.
Based on the WeChat affinity of the Chinese students at the SCSU CI program, the program organizers faced difficulty applying other social media platforms, as part of the curricula of the host country. Namely, blog, as one of the widely used SM platform for creative writing (citation comes here), was contemplated as a SM platform for the Chinese students to journal their experience at the SCSU CI program. Since WeChat behaves rather like Facebook and Snapchat, the lack of opportunity to utilize widely available platform for rather lengthy narration (versus SMS/texting abilitis of Twitter and WeChat) convince the SCSU CI program organizers to seek the buy in by Chinese students into the blog initiative.
Pang (2018) builds a theory based on Ellison (2007) theory of “maintained social capital,” namely the ability of individuals to maintain values of social ties when geographically disconnected. Ping (2018) further narrows her research on Chinese students in Germany using Li and Chen (2014) findings about Ellison’s theory on students in a foreign environment and the necessity for these students to build a new circle of friends in the host country. According to Basilisco an Cha (2015), such environment was provided for Filipino students by using Facebook and Twitter.
Agur, C., Belair-Gagnon, V., & Frish, N. (2018). Mobile sourcing: A case study of journalistic norms and usage of chat apps. Mobile Meida and Communication, 6(1), 53–70. https://doi.org/DOI: 10.1177/2050157917725549
Chen, Y. (2017). WeChat use among Chinese college students: Exploring gratifications and political engagement in China. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 10(1), 25–43. https://doi.org/10.1080/17513057.2016.1235222
Pang, H. (2016). Understanding key factors affecting young people’s WeChat usage: an empirical study from uses and gratifications perspective. International Journal of Web Based Communities, 12(3), 262. https://doi.org/10.1504/IJWBC.2016.077757
Pang, H. (2018). Understanding the effects of WeChat on perceived social capital and psychological well-being among Chinese international college students in Germany. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 70(3), 288–304. https://doi.org/DOI 10.1108/AJIM-01-2018-0003
Run Zhi Zhu, X. L. X. (2015). The Influence of Social Media on Sleep Quality: A Study of Undergraduate Students in Chongqing, China. Journal of Nursing & Care, 04(03). https://doi.org/10.4172/2167-1168.1000253
Wang, Y., Fang, W.-C., Han, J., & Chen, N.-S. (2016). Exploring the affordances of WeChat for facilitating teaching, social and cognitive presence in semi-synchronous language exchange. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology. https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.2640
China paradox in Australia? Take a look. Pro-China protestors in the country enjoying democratic freedoms – including speech and assembly – by harassing pro-#HongKong protestors who want to protect own similar democratic freedoms in Hong Kong. 🤷🏽♂️🤷🏽♂️🤷🏽♂️ #HongKongProtests#antiELABhttps://t.co/yDBpA5rG02
Chinese government uses WeChat to spy on everyone who uses it, and they use it in the same way Facebook uses fake news to mobilize far right groups. Hong Kong protestors avoid it like the plague https://t.co/KIvK7FyUHP
“Netnography” has been developed for online community researchers. It is “net” plus “ethnography,” which is based on the traditional ethnography and combines with the qualitative analysis for online interactive contents forms of virtual community members. The aim of doing netnographic research is to study the subculture, interactive process and characteristics of collective behaviors of online communities (Kozinets 2009). Follow the development of Internet technology, the web–based method is more convenient and cost–effect in data collection. Members in virtual groups create a large number of interactive texts, pictures, network expressions and other original information over time, which provides an extremely rich database to researchers. Moreover, from the data collection’s point of view, this online observation method will not interfere with the whole research process, which is better than questionnaires and quantitative modeling (Moisander and Valtonen 2006). Additionally, Kozinets (2009) also pointed that netnogrpahy emphasize on the research background, observers not only focus on the text during communications but also need to pay attention to the characteristics of language, history, meaning and communication types. Even parse fonts, symbols, images and photo data. These content of studies are significant in social communication, which is called “Cultural Artifact.” On the other hand, netnography is based on traditional ethnography as a methodology; therefore it inherits the research processes of ethnographic method. Kozients (2009) reinterpreted these procedures for netnography as Firstly, to determine the research target and understand its cultural characteristics; Secondly, to collect and analyze information; Thirdly, to ensure the credibility of interpretation; Fourthly, pay attention to research ethics; Lastly, to obtain respondents feedbacks. To make my research adapting to this guidelines, I make my research process as 1. To target on Plymouth Chinese overseas students and to explain the Chinese guanxi; 2. To collect and analyze data through the existing WeChat group created by Plymouth Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA); 3. To confirm the identity of key influencers in this virtual group; 4. To get feedbacks from respondent as much as possible.
Nebel, S., Schneider, S., & Rey, G. D. (2016). Mining Learning and Crafting Scientific Experiments: A Literature Review on the Use of Minecraft in Education and Research. Journal Of Educational Technology & Society, 19(2), 355-366.
Throw in LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and region specific social networks like Vkontakte and Sina Weibo and WeChat, and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’s online but isn’t on social media.
What has led to the rise of these social networks? What kind of people do they attract?
What is their psychology? What kind of content do they like to consume? And most importantly for bloggers and marketers – what works, what doesn’t on social media?
Facebook has become the ‘home base’ for most people online. While they may or may not use other networks, a majority maintain a presence on Facebook.
Popular: Used by 72% of all adult internet users in America.
More women users: 77% of online female users are on Facebook.
Younger audience: 82% of all online users between 18-29 are on Facebook
USA (14%), India (9%) and Brazil (7%) form the three largest markets.
Twitter’s quick flowing ‘info stream’ attracts an audience that swings younger and is mostly urban/semi-urban.
Younger: Used by 37% of all online users between 18 and 29.
Educated: 54% of users have either graduated college, or have some college experience.
Richer: 54% of online adults who make over $50,000+ are on Twitter.
Younger users: 27% of all 16-24 year olds online are active members of Google+. In contrast, only 18% and 14% of 45-54 and 55-64 year olds are active on Google+ at the moment.
Large non-US user base: Only 55% of Google+ users are American. 18% are Indian and 6% are Brazilian. One reason for this international user base is Android’s popularity outside the US (since Google+ is baked right into Android).
Even income distribution: According to GlobalWebIndex.net, 22% of people in bottom 25% of income earners are on Google+. For the top 25% of income earners, this number is 24%, while for the mid 50% earners, this number is 23%. This means that nearly all levels of income earners are nearly equally represented on Google+.
Here’s what you should know about Pinterest demographics:
Overwhelmingly female: 42% of all online female users are on Pinterest, vs. only 13% of men.
Older audience: 72% of Pinterest’s audience are 30 years or older. Only 34% are between 18 and 29. Significantly, 17% are over 65 years old.
Distinctly suburban: Suburban and rural users form the largest share – 29% and 30% respectively. This is distinctly different from other networks where urban users rule.
Higher income: Given the higher average age, Pinterest users also have higher disposable income, with 64% of all adults making $50,000+ on Pinterest.
The professional networking site LinkedIn attracts an older audience that is largely urban, wealthier, and more educated.
Older: Only 23% of users are between 18-29 years old. 21% are over 65 years, and 31% are between 30 and 49 years of age.
Urban: Very limited number of rural users – only 14%. 61% are either urban or suburban.
Wealthier: 75% of users earn over $50,000.
Highly educated: 50% of LinkedIn users are college graduates. Another 22% have some college experience.
Snapchat is the newest social networks on this list, but also one of the fastest growing. Here’s what you need to know about its demographics:
Dominated by women: 70% of Snapchat’s users are females.
Overwhelmingly young: 71% of users are younger than 25.
Limited income: 62% earn under $50,000 – fitting given the average age of Snapchat’s users.
ere’s what you should take away from all these stats:
If you’re targeting younger users, stick to Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.
If you’re targeting women with disposable income, head over to Pinterest.
For professionals with better education and income, use LinkedIn.
For everyone, go with Facebook.
The psychology of social media users
Facebook is a ‘closed’ network where your friends list will usually be limited to family, friends and acquaintances you’ve met in real life. Privacy is a big concern for Facebook’s users, and all posts are private by default.
This ultimately affects the way users interact with each other and with businesses on Facebook.
Facebook users are more trusting (since the network is closed).
Facebook users have more close relationships. Pew found that heavy users of the platform are more likely to have a higher number of close relationships.
Facebook users are politically engaged and active.
To understand why people share or follow on Twitter, researchers at Georgia Tech and UMichigan analysed over 500M tweets over 15-months. They found that the three biggest reasons why people share/follow on Twitter are:
Network overlap: Your network is similar to your followers’ network.
User tweet-RT ratio: The number of tweets vs. the number of RTs for a user.
Informational content: The more informative the content, the better.