Social networking software

Chinese Top Microblog Hits Over 90 Million Active Users

A Twitter-like service operated by one of China's largest Internet firms now has over 90 million active users on a monthly basis, and is positioning itself as one of the world's largest microblogging platforms.

Tencent, which operates China's most popular instant messaging platform, QQ, reported the figure during an earnings call on Wednesday. The company also said that its microblog service had a total of 160 million registered users in April.

The figure puts its on track to possibly surpass the U.S.-based Twitter, which has about 200 million registered user accounts. Tencent's microblogging platform was launched last year, and is based in a country with 457 million Web users, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.

Tencent's closest rival is a microblog service offered by Sina, the operator of a top Chinese Internet portal site. Sina reported in early March that it's microblogging service had passed the 100 million mark.

Domestic microblogging services took off in China in 2009 after the government censors in the country blocked Twitter. The service was blocked following the breakout of ethnic riots in China's western Xinjiang region.

While both Tencent's and Sina's microblogging platforms are gaining popularity in China, they still operate under the strict scrutiny of the authorities. In February, the services blocked users from searching for the term "Jasmine", in reference to an anonymous protest against the Chinese government.

In spite of the censorship, microblogging platforms are expected to rise to the top of China's social networking market, according to analysts. In terms of user numbers, they have already begun to surpass Chinese Facebook-like sites such as Renren, which debuted on the New York Stock Exchange last week. Renren has 31 million active monthly users. Tencent's own social networking site, called Pengyou, has 101 million active monthly users.

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