Twitter may be blocked in China, but that’s not stopping the citizens from sending 140 characters or less messages.
Reuters is reporting that the use of microblogging (i.e. Twitter) has quadrupled in 2011 compared to 2010. A government Internet think tank said today that nearly half of all Chinese Internet users are taking to the near-instant service to gather news and spread views.
China’s version of Twitter, Weibo, has two popular platforms being run in the country by Sina Corp and Tencent Holdings. Both firms claim to have more than 200 million users accessing their service.
Last year was a huge year for the service as users took to Weibo to discuss events such as the Wenzhou high-speed train crash in July.
The rise in the use of these services caused a stir in the government and they feared that they may be losing their control of information. This led to the government regulating the services by requiring all users to register with their real names.
The new rules didn’t deter users from taking to the service though. The total number of Weibo users rose 296 percent to 249.9 million in 2011. The data came from the China Internet Network Information Center which showed that half of the Chinese Internet population uses Weibo.
The same group said that China’s Internet population had risen to 513 million users. That makes up 38.3 percent of the population is on the Internet.
To put things into perspective, the U.S. population is projected to be at 312 million this month. The U.S. had 239 million Internet users for 77.3 percent of the population in 2010.