China, Technology

PDC 4 – Introduction to Public Social Media and Forum Sites in China

You might know the equivalent of Twitter in China, Weibo as the place where Chinese Internet users express their opinions and share their life.

However, Weibo is not the only place where Internet users hang out in China publicly. There are many other platforms in the Chinese Internet where users can discuss current affairs in self-organized communities.

Here are some of the platforms that I know of, ranked by MAU (monthly active users).

1. Sina Weibo 新浪微博 – 431 Million MAU

Weibo screenshot (2017), from

Weibo is probably the most well-known and straight-forward social media product in the West, known as a clone of Twitter.

Technically other companies like Tencent (company behind WeChat) also have their own Weibo (which literally just means micro-blogging), but Sina Weibo emerged as the most popular one since 2011.

It is distinctively different from its arch enemy WeChat in the sense that posts on Weibo is mostly public, whereas posts on WeChat Moments (WeChat’s social media feature) is, by design, private among friends. However, WeChat does also have subscription accounts which offer public contents and comments.

One interesting thing about Weibo is that it allows monetization of its content, which I covered in depth in my previous post.

2. Douban Group 豆瓣小组 – 300 Million MAU

Sceenshot of one Douban group focused on Natural Science, direct link:

Douban is founded in 2015, the same year as Reddit. It has a reputation of being the community of young intellectuals (文艺青年).

Anything from literature to minimalism to travel is being discussed here within communities of like-minded people.

3. Hupu BBS 虎扑社区 – 55 Million MAU

Screenshot of Hupu main sub-forum, 步行街主干道. Direct link:

Hupu BBS is known for its focus on sports. It is also famous for requiring users to answer questions before they can post contents. Apparently it helps to keep up on quality of content.

4. Baidu Tieba 百度贴吧 – 54 Million MAU

Originally the sub-forum for World of Warcraft, wow sub-forum has evolved into a general forum about anything.

Baidu Tieba was one of the oldest online forum (older than Reddit). Many big Internet memes and headlines like Jia Junpeng and 69圣战 were born here.

It is known for allowing users to create their own “吧” (sub-forums), for anything under the sun, such as your favorite idol, your favorite game, your city, or even your high school.

I myself was one of the earlier users of Baidu Tieba and an ex-moderator of the sub-forum for my secondary school.

5. Zhihu 知乎 – 35 Million MAU

Screenshot of Zhihu home page, (logged into my personal account)

Zhihu is very much like Quora.

Some people like it because it provides good information and analysis on wide range of topics, and there are lots of famous people actively participating in discussions.

If you want to know the opinions of “intellectual elites”, Zhihu is the best place to go.

6. Her Community 她社区 – 4.8 Million MAU

Screenshots taken from App Store, direct link:

I didn’t know about this app until I started researching into this topic and bumped into this report on MAU statistics for online forums.

Apparently this is a female-only social media app with community elements.

7. Tianya BBS 天涯社区 – 1.4 Million MAU

  • Launched on 14 February 1999, source: wikipedia
  • Home page:
  • MAU: 1.4 million (March 2017), source: 比达网
  • Type: Online interest groups / Forum
  • Western equivalent: 4chan (not in terms of maturity rating. Tianya BBS is okay for teenagers, but 4chan is arguably not)
Screenshot of Tianya BBS home page

Tianya BBS is the by far the oldest online forum in China that is still active.

It covers a wide range of topics, but different from Reddit or Baidu Tieba in the sense that sub-forums are pre-defined instead of user-generated.


That wraps up my brief introduction to the major social media and forum sites in China.

Let me know in the comments below if you spot any mistakes or any notable sites that I missed out.

Cover photo modified from

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