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Weibo network, information diffusion and implications for collective action in China

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This study examines information diffusion and the follower network among a group of Sina Weibo users interested in homeowner associations. Using social network analysis techniques, this paper explores the network structure, the formation of follower relations and information diffusion. It reveals that micro-blogging is an important online platform because it can conveniently and inexpensively foster public online issue-networks beyond geographical boundaries. Specifically, Weibo has the potential to enable cross-province networking and communication, although geographical proximity is still at work; the trustworthiness of micro-blog users indirectly contributes to information diffusion by facilitating the formation of follower relations; and issue-specific follower networks facilitate information diffusion pertinent to the issue at stake. These findings suggest that micro-blogging services might have long-term effects on collective action by fostering issue-networks among civil society organizations or activists in different provinces.
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Keywords: China; information diffusion; issue-networks; micro-blogging

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology, Fudan University, 220 Handan Road, Shanghai, 200433, People's Republic of China 2: Department of Public Policy, City University of Hong Kong, Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Publication date: January 2, 2014

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