Social media is all over the web. People from all walks of life enjoy an hour or two of virtually doing nothing but browsing the World Wide Web for leisure. Meanwhile, other people found an opportunity to make money on the web and give them all the more reason to go online daily to earn a living. There is a long list of social networks that abound the web today. It is already hard to keep track since new ones pop up every now and then, but of course, nothing beats the classic and all-time favorites that are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and so on.
However, not everyone gets to enjoy the benefits of these social networks. For instance, the government restricts contents of what an individual can access in China. The Chinese government has actually been jokingly referred to by many as “the great firewall of China” because of the extreme Internet censorship practiced there. They can go as far as blocking sites, restricting access, monitoring your online activity and making it look like you sent something over the web but are actually intercepted by the government in reality. They really do some very nasty and sneaky web censorship in China and it has been a cause for alarm for some world leaders from then until now. And as such, much of the Chinese misses out on all the wonders offered by social media but leave it to the Chinese to improvise and make up something similar of their own to make up for whatever they have lost. After all, everything is almost made in China, right?
China has a notorious reputation as a hub for counterfeits, but that’s far from the case in its digital media scene, where a unique ecosystem has nurtured innovation.
Tencent’s Wechat, for example, is a significant evolution from a pure phone chat app, and it has become an all-in-one product that combines a Facebook-like social platform with mobile payment and other functions.
Aldo Fumagalli, chairman of the Candy Hoover Group, pointed to Wechat as representative of a of “digital craftsmanship” in which China is excelling.
Fumagalli was speaking at March’s Boao Forum for Asia, where a key focus was technology, its evolution and its regulation in China. Asia‘s largest economy boasts the world’s highest mobile transaction volumes.
According to data from iResearch Global, over 10 trillion Chinese yuan ($1.45 trillion) changed hands over mobile payment platforms in 2015. This amount would more than double to 22 trillion yuan ($3.2 trillion) for 2017, the house projected.
Technology is such a wonderful thing for giving mankind the gift of social media, which may work flawlessly or not at times. But most content we see today are really unknown to most Chinese people. Again, Internet censorship is at work because the Chinese government wants no or as little Western influence to ever corrupt the minds of their people. Hence, most social networks like Facebook and Twitter, infamous platforms for social and political discourse – are banned in China. Even the search engine Google while controversial events happening in different parts of the world can’t be searched in most Chinese search engines.
Chinese social media users will soon benefit from a flood of new international content entering their feeds.
That’s thanks to recent tie-ups between local social media platforms and digital content distributor network Yoola to bring selected content, primarily from the United States and Russia, into the Chinese market. Local partners include social media giants Weibo and Tencent , as well as Youku-Tudou, Toutiao, Miapoi, Kuaishou, Bilibili, Meipai, AcFun, and Aipai.
This comes against a backdrop of Western internet companies, including Facebook and Google , long struggling to gain footing in the Chinese market. Both are currently blocked in the mainland.
Yoola is one of YouTube’s multi-channel networks (MCN), third-party service providers that work with YouTube channels to offer audience development, content programming and monetising services, among others. The company currently manages more than 72,000 channels, driving over 7 billion monthly views with more than 650 million subscribers across the network.
Through a localisation process, which includes translating, editing, operating and promoting the content on different networks in China, Yoola is aiming to help influencers gain traction in China — and, in doing so, bridging international content gaps.
This may be baby steps for China but this will do for the meantime. For so long, the Chinese resisted change and Western influence like their neighbor and close ally, North Korea. But ever since China opened its door, they have been gradually embracing change one step at a time. While the transition was challenged by the sudden rise of technology and social media, they appear to be gradually loosening up and hopefully, this will keep up. No more social media bannings and nonsensical Internet censorship that violates the rights of the Chinese people to free speech and expression.