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Finally, China’s Sina Weibo Rolls Out Partial English Interface [UPDATE: Sina Confirms]

Steven Millward
Steven Millward
2:27 pm on Jan 9, 2013

Sina Weibo rolls out English version

Sina Weibo has over 400 million registered users, though it’s hard to know how many of those are overseas. Nonetheless, we’ve noticed today that the Twitter-esque Weibo has just rolled out a partial English-language interface. We’ve reached out to Sina (NASDAQ:SINA) to found out what’s happening. [UPDATE 30 minutes after posting: A Sina representative in Beijing tells us: “Countries in Southeast Asia [can] pick English or Chinese – this isn’t opened globally yet.” But in our test, it’s working in America right now].

The Weibo.com frontpage – which has a simpler redesign today – now also has an “English” option in the dropdown menu (access it here), though it doesn’t convert the whole page from Chinese. Then, once logged in, Sina Weibo now has some English in the menus, but the whole interface is far from transformed. But it seems to be a start.

This is how it looks with English, as it appears now for my colleague Charlie in the US. Note that the logo is now in English too:

Sina Weibo rolls out English interface

Click to enlarge.

You can contrast that with how it looks for me here in China:

Sina Weibo interface

Click to enlarge.

In November of 2011, Sina revealed that it had two million users in Hong Kong, though I suspect many of those are using the traditional Chinese text interface.

If Sina Weibo converts its whole UI into English, it could help overseas brands do social marketing to Chinese consumers.

Sina’s microblogging platform is having a very rough week with a large-scale revolt among Chinese netizens over heavy-handed censorship of an editorial at the usually quite outspoken magazine Southern Weekend. Much of that anger has been expressed via Sina Weibo, causing one of the moderators (i.e. censors) at Sina Weibo to make the highly unusual move of speaking out, pleading for understanding about how Weibo is a kind of “human flesh shield” between users and authorities.

Rival microblog Tencent Weibo added a broader English interface in September 2011.

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Have Your Say
  • http://www.gothster.com joyce

    Moving so fast

  • Pei

    no, not fast at all. sina weibo is out in market for 6+ years already in China. this is consider very slow i think.

  • http://www.mouafik.fr Kyotoweb

    I can say from internal sources that the english version is way more advanced than the screenshot posted here (which only contains a roughly translated dropdown menu).

  • http://www.techinasia.com C. Custer

    @ Pei: Sina Weibo has not been out for six years in China, not even close. It was launched on August 14, 2009, so actually it’s been around for a little less than three and a half years.

  • Claire

    Do you know which countries in Southeast Asia, as I’m still only getting the three Chinese options in Hong Kong?