China's Twitter-like Weibo reopens trending ranking service after a week's suspension

By Leng Shumei Published: 2020/6/18 1:37:10

Photo: IC

China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo reopened its top trending list on Wednesday afternoon after being suspended by the Beijing cyberspace authority for a week. 

The ranking was reactivated around 3 pm Wednesday. In the first minute after the reactivation, top rated topics included COVID-19 cases in China, COVID-19 patient in the US received bill of more than 1 million dollars after discharge, and China-Indian border conflicts. 

Many netizens applauded the ranking's return, saying that they felt like they lost contact with the world during the days without Weibo's trending ranking, or "resou" in Chinese. 

A hastag of "#resou is back" ranked 12th on the list as of 11 pm Wednesday and had been viewed for more than 500 million times. 

Weibo has been provided trending list since 2010. The function has become a vital platform for Chinese netizens, especially young people, to keep up with hot topics and celebrity gossips. 

The list has also played an important role in revealing violations of law and principles and used public opinion to urge authorities or institutes to engage in important issues.

For example, viral posts on Weibo revealed alleged extramarital affairs of Jiang Fan, the president of Alibaba's e-commerce platforms Taobao and Tmall, which raised eyebrows and was also the case many people believe leading to the suspension of the list.   

Following an Alibaba internal investigation into the issue, Jiang's company partnership was removed.    

Beijing cyberspace authority on June 10 summoned personnel in charge of the Weibo platform and ordered Weibo to immediately correct its faults, which include interfering in network information dissemination orders and spreading information in violation of laws and regulations. Weibo's trending ranking function was also suspended as part of the punishment. 

Weibo's relaxed management, to some extent, also played a role in Jiang's issue, Shi Wenxue, a Beijing-based film critic, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Shi said Weibo probably would enhance management on negative content or those containing harmful information. 

Some industry observers also predicted that after the suspension and punishment, Weibo would strictly control the ratio of celebrity gossip in the trending ranking. 

But Shi said news about celebrities would not be affected as long as they are spreading positive energy. 

According to media reports, companies or celebrities can pay money to Weibo for a place in the ranking, which can cost  50,000-60,000 yuan ($7,056-8,467) for a place in the top three on the list; and 45,000-55,000 for a top 4 or top 5 on the list. 

Those prices are likely to increase, observers said.  

The predicted increasing cost will likely not deter celebrities for buying their way on to the list as the Global Times found that six of the top ten topics on the trending list as of 11 pm Wednesday were commercial advertisements and marketing posts from celebrities. 

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