After a week’s suspension due to government crackdown, Sina Weibo’s trending topics and other promotional features are back up, Sina has reported (in Chinese). Last week, the Cyberspace Administration issued a ban on some of Weibo’s most searched hashtags and the microblog platform’s trending topics feature Hot Search (微博热搜).
In response, Weibo took a week to redesign trending topics and other promotional features before reintroducing the sanitized version. The biggest change was Hot Search which offers a real-time updated list of the hottest discussions according to data from users’ search results. The brand new Hot Search feature is now divided into four sections with a new section named New Era added.
Sina’s Weibo is one of the most popular social media networks where users can interact with strangers and voice opinions on issues on a visible public platform. The Hot Search function helped Weibo users find out and get involved with the most important topics being discussed online.
During the shut-down, regulators condemned Weibo and other technology companies for their role in spreading inaccurate, vulgar and ethnically discriminating content. But the main rationale offered by the regulators is that certain businesses and entertainers have been manipulating Weibo to gain attention and traffic. As part of its reform, the microblogging platform also announced it will identify and intercept cheating behavior in real time. It is interesting to note that Twitter is also facing similar accusations.
The new move from Sina Weibo echoes that of popular Chinese news aggregation platform Jinri Toutiao operated by Bytedance. In early January, Toutiao banished more than 2500 illegal accounts for illegal content and hired 2,000 additional censors after regulators temporarily suspended updating several of its news channels.
On February 2nd, the State Internet Information Office announced new microblog information service management regulations which include real name registration and keeping user log information for at least 6 months. The rules also require microblog providers to establish a mechanism for preventing rumors and false information.