Skip to 0 minutes and 1 secondSo now we're going to learn more about the Chinese social media platforms themselves. So let's start with QQ. OK, now the first thing to note about QQ is actually the massive variety of different services that it's got on it. OK, so if we go here, you can see QQ actually offers instant messaging. But it's also got social networking. It's got e-mail. It's got music and video sharing, online search, it's even got antivirus software. It's got television and film streaming services. It's got its own news portal. It's got gaming features as well, and lots and lots of other features. In fact, there's probably no other platform outside of China that just got so many features, right?

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 secondsAnd also, for many Chinese, they have a QQ account way before they own a PC or a Smartphone. And for them, it's like their first email or online gaming all came from QQ. Yeah. And actually, well, the most social aspects of QQ are probably actually QQ Instant Messenger and Qzone. So if we look, the interface of actually QQ Instant Messenger, if we look, it's actually quite similar to the now defunct MSN Instant Messenger. So here users can start a one-to -one or group conversation with their contacts, and they can also access and receive notifications from all those other QQ services. By contrast, if we look at Qzone, Qzone features like a Facebook-like web-based social networking site.

Skip to 1 minute and 38 secondsBut what those two different features have, Qzone and the Instant Messenger, is that both of the times when most people share things on it, they share it with their own group of friends. But they are actually quite different from the Western social media platforms You have been comparing them to Tom. Look, on Qzone users can also back write and design their home page with amazing patterns and themes, and they do, which gives Qzone very colourful and diverse look. Yeah, absolutely. Totally different from the plain blue and white that you see on Facebook, right? Exactly, I we're both like seeing people spend hours beautifying their Qzone.

Skip to 2 minutes and 20 secondsAnd also, users can check in to Qzone to record their visits, which actually highlights the fact that people actually see Qzone as a place that they visit. Yeah, OK. But moving on, [INAUDIBLE], because WeChat is another really, really popular social media platform in China. But the one big difference is that you have to use a Smartphone to use the platform. Yes, and also WeChat supports one-to-one group messaging. Also, users of WeChat can follow the public official accounts, which is quite similar to Twitter. But also, we should look at the Moments feature, because really, that's the most social aspect of WeChat. And on Moments, people use it to share videos, and photos, and text with their friends, right.

Skip to 3 minutes and 9 secondsAnd also, look, WeChat has People Nearby function, which uses the phone's GPS to display a list of people sorted by gender who are both physically nearby and using the same function. And talking of connecting with strangers, the WeChat Shake function allows you to shake your Smartphone like this and get connected with strangers who are doing the shaking at the same time. Look, I just found a new friend. Right, yeah. OK, but if we move to look at microblogs such as Tencent and Sina Weibo, they're often thought of by non-Chinese commentators as being effectively the Chinese version of Twitter.

Skip to 3 minutes and 49 secondsAnd the popularity of Weibo among celebrities as a kind of way for them to directly interact with the public is what gives this platform a lot of visibility. But unlike QQ and WeChat, which mainly facilitate interaction between small groups, actually, on Weibo those posts are usually made public by default. But actually, we found that in our own field sites people really didn't like using these platforms too much. That's a good point. I think what is different about our work is because people in our field site seem to like using social media platforms where you really need to get to know them very well and become their friends, before they are happy to giving you access to what they post.

Skip to 4 minutes and 36 secondsAnd because they're the platforms that people really like using, they were the ones that we concentrated on in our research. Exactly. And also, our work showed that it makes no sense of studying just one single platform, because in daily life people actually use a range of social media platforms for different purpose. Yeah, so in the next video, what we're going to look at is an anthropological theory that might help us understand that.

Chinese social media platforms

In this video we show you what Chinese social media platforms actually look like and discuss their main features and how people use them.

Which of the features on these Chinese platforms seem to differ from the ones that you use? What impact do you imagine these differences would have on people’s behaviour or society?

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Why We Post: the Anthropology of Social Media

UCL (University College London)

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