Chinese microblogging service Sina Weibo was briefly unavailable yesterday, reflecting sluggish internet speeds, the comment function was suspended and some pages cannot be displayed. The site appeared to be fully restored in less than two hours.
The official account of Sina Weibo has suggested that this outage be blamed on LUHAN, one of the currently hottest stars who confirmed his romantic relationship with the actress Guan Xiaotong through the social media platform Weibo. The tweet soon attracted many eyes, and has received 462,884 reposts as of press time. It was probably the most popular tweet for yesterday, along with 986,409 of comments and 2,566,617 of “Likes”.
Usually, important public events and entertainment events would promote the immediate microblogging traffic. It explains why LUHAN’s confession tweet led to the microblogging traffic surging. Obviously, Sina Weibo is still unable to deal with such a massive data flow, resulting in sluggish performance at peak times. Again, to meet the urgent needs, the company chose to call another 1000 servers from service vendor Aliyun and got them back when the overall concern about the topic diminished. It seems that this has been an idiomatic pattern in outage crisis.
Founded in 2009, Sina Weibo has transformed from a Chinese equivalent of Twitter or Facebook to China’s biggest social media network that incorporates the major features of social media channels like Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. It is estimated that the active monthly user of Sina Weibo reaches 340 million in Q1 2017, almost 30% up on the previous year. And there are 150 million people using the site daily, 91% of whom access it via smartphones.
By comparison, the active monthly user of Twitter is 328 million.
Sina Weibo aims to build the best social media experience in China by providing unparalleled performance, stated Gaofei Wang, who is the chief executive of the social media platform.
However, as with the success of mobile messenger Tencent WeChat, Sina Weibo’s dominate position has been challenged.
Initially designed as a mobile application providing instant messaging services, Tencent WeChat is synonymous with the mobile internet for China’s 525m smartphone users, an additive way to chat online that has won international praise for its minimalist design.
Sina Weibo is losing the social media crown to Tencent WeChat after it introduced advertising on a large scale. More and more users are clamouring for attention because they think Sina Weibo is too commercialized. Tencent WeChat also faces the same problem, but it is more careful with introducing advertising so as not to bombard users.
In addition to too many ads for the purpose of revenue, Sina Weibo now has to come up with an effective method for frequent site downtime if it doesn’t want to lose more users.