The University of Iowa

Another Great Wall of China

December 12th, 2013

By Siqi Wang for The Daily Iowan

Social networks play a large role in the life of a college student.

For me specifically, I have found my kindergarten friends through Chinese social networks, researched information on universities through Twitter, and even found an apartment through Facebook.

On American social networks, people can say what they want and share opinions on various topics without being constrained. But in China, not all words can be said because the government controls our freedom of speech.

Unlike the United States, it is rare for people in China to form connections with employers through social networks. If they did find a job, it would most likely turn out to be a joke.

It is also rare for Chinese people to be on Facebook and Twitter because those social networks have been blocked by China’s Great Firewall.

Because of this, many people frequently use Chinese social networks.

Renren is similar to Facebook. The site uses real names, allows you to post your latest photos, and even share statuses. You can find your friends by their email, their name, or their username. The goal of Renren is to increase the relationships among friends and relatives, but it is a little more private than Facebook.

Weibo is similar to Twitter. Many pop stars, famous writers, and artists can be found on this social network. People share their latest news in 140 characters, follow celebrities, and can zhuanfa (re-tweet) their followers. The goal of Weibo is to transmit the latest information to the public as quickly as possible.

The latest social network in China is called Weixin or WeChat, which can be found in the App Store. I think almost everyone who’s Chinese has this tool — it’s that popular. It is a combination of text messages and picture sharing. It is easy for those of us who live in another county but want to contact our parents and friends more often.

If you still want to find your Chinese friends on a social network, the best option is Instagram. It is the only social network that isn’t blocked by China’s Great Firewall.