The Internets have been all atwitter lately with a rumor that China has released a “communist version of Twitter”. Unfortunately, no sources were included in the articles. Is this just crappy journalism or a fabricated story altogether?
Doing some research into Chinese microblogging, I came across a fantastic little site called fanfou.com. If you could buy knock-off microblogging sites in Chinatown, this is what you’d get. It’s a near-perfect replica.
Though this is likely not the site rumored to have launched lately as it has been around for some time now. New registration is by invitation only, as you can see by this screenshot of their amusingly translated webpage.
|How elitist for you Commies!|
Wanting to learn more, and being unable to join this exclusive pseudo-Twitter, I ventured over to their FAQs.
|Starve your blog.|
|I reached her ceiling, if you know what I mean.|
These frequently asked questions were frequently confusing, and the answers were usually even more so. That led me to click “About rice has” where surely I’d get some good information on what’s going on here.
|That explains it.|
Finally, I somewhat understood. You use the meal to record your feelings and express views. But the meal is the website.
While these Google translations were both confusing and amusing, I would like to explain that the food/rice/meals references are due to the site’s name. “Fanfou” is an ancient greeting which literally means “had food”. It’s used similar to “How’s it going?” for us Americans.
This clearly is no “Red Microblog”! So, what’s going on? Did Mashable lie to us? Is the Huffington Post merely taking an opportunity to peddle communist propaganda? Do we live in a time where journalistic credibility is an oxymoron?
I had to dig even deeper. And what I found was an article from 2009. Using the same Google Translate awesomeness that I had used on Fanfou, I began reading. The content is very similar to the original articles posted just today on US “news” sites. Here’s my summary:
There was this guy, Bo Xilai, and he’s the party secretary in Chongqing. That’s probably like being the Nancy Pelosi of California. Apparently, some Chinese people were using some kind of group SMS system to say “dirty” things. This party-liner was not amused. He spoke out against such immature behavior and said that new media should be used to strengthen party loyalties and extol communist virtues. As an example, he said, “I like a few words of Chairman Mao: ‘The world is ours, you have to everyone to’, ‘word seriously afraid of the world afraid of the Communist Party talk to the most serious’, ‘people need a little spirit’, these words are capable, very real, very mention gas.”
Okay, so the translation may of crapped out there, or perhaps communism is just really weird. It’s interesting to note, though, that the US sites quoted, “I really like the words by Chairman Mao [Zedong] that ‘The world is ours; we should work together.” Perhaps that makes a more effective soundbite. And there’s still 42 characters available for retweeting.
The US articles are saying much of the same thing from this year old Chinese article I found. However, they also say that this Bo guy created a website for Chongqing that is somehow similar to Twitter and used to send party-supporting messages.
I would believe this a lot more if any one of these articles would have included a link to the site rumored to exist. Did they? No. Perhaps that would be too journalistic for a glorified blog.
Still it seems like a natural course of action for Bo. He doesn’t like what these young whipper-snappers are doing on their mobile phones and whatnots. If you can’t beat ’em, make a website they probably won’t join.