The use of microblogging in China quadrupled in 2011 compared to 2010, a Chinese government internet organisation has said.
Nearly half of all Chinese internet users are now using the instant message medium, but they’re not using the popular microblogging service Twitter, which censors have blocked in the country.
Microblogging, or "Weibo" as it is known in China, allows users to send short messages of 140 characters or less – the same as Twitter – to their followers, Reuters reported.
The total number of Weibo users increased 296pc to 249.9m in 2011, data from the China Internet Network Information Center revealed.
Two companies that run popular Weibo platforms in China are Sina Corp and Tencent Holdings, both of which claim to have more than 200m users.
Weibo has sparked concern within the Communist Party, Reuters reported, which fears that losing control of information and opinion could threaten its authority.
Last month, Chinese city governments announced rules to regulate microblogging operators.