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    Posted December 28, 2012 by
    Beijing, China

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    Social Networking in China - Who is Asleep? Who is Wide Awake?

    In the age of ‘Web 2.0’, intersection among digital technology and social media has brought online journalism to be an emerging phenomenon around the globe, in particularly –Mainland China.

    During the early months this year, a scandalous political incident hit People’s Republic of China after Wang LiJun – the popular police chief fled to the Chengdu’s US consulate seeking for immediate asylum. Thru the rise of citizen journalism over Chinese micro-blogs, spurred rumours such as ‘military standoff’ in Chengdu soon began to circulate on Sina and the RenRen Network, the two largest social networking providers in China.
    Further gossips and stories of political coup began to vigorously spread which later invigorated immense public attention, anxiety and fear among the Chinese population. Reacting rather unhurriedly, Chinese authorities took actions two weeks later by closing down 16 websites, arresting 6 persons for “fabricating or disseminating online rumours’ and penalizing the country’s two largest social networking sites.

    Following the escalating public distress caused by rumours that were spread on Chinese social networking sites, the public chaos have illustrated some of the possible vulnerabilities between social media, online journalism and China’s lack of a free press and the absence of a transparent political system. Much often, the discourse of citizen journalism tends to be normative and brings positive impacts to the society. However, when encountering such sensitive political issues in China, online information sharing and citizen journalism have indeed perceived crisis in media credibility and professional journalism.

    Despite the presence of vulnerabilities, with the increasing prevalence of social media technologies, Internet as a disruptive technology has indeed allowed online journalism to beneficially restructure the landscape of news media, thus enhancing the process of information sharing, as a whole giving the news industry an expanded audience.
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