Sina Weibo, the company behind the microblogging platform so often referred to as “China’s Twitter,” has launched what will inevitably become known as “China’s Instagram” — assuming its new venture takes off. Lvzhou (绿洲 literally “green land” but more commonly translated as “oasis”) has just landed on app stores and looks remarkably similar to the Gram.
The new app — which is still officially in beta mode — has also led to some comparisons with Xiaohongshu (RED), China’s popular social ecommerce app which is currently under fire from regulators. Xiaohongshu, which merges product reviews with livestreaming and social elements, was removed from a number of app stores over a month ago, apparently due to concerns over fake reviews.
Interestingly, Weibo’s move also comes as the previously dominant mega-app WeChat appears to be experiencing something of a Facebook moment, with teens reportedly shunning it due to the overbearing presence of their parents there. Many of those users have been turning to the likes of Douyin (TikTok) to get away from mom and dad’s prying eyes.
Instagram itself began being blocked intermittently in China in 2014, and is now completely shut out to those without a VPN. That doesn’t stop numerous Chinese influencers and celebrities leaping over the Great Firewall to post that perfect cupcake shot (or Hong Kong protest meme) however, and its prevailing popularity has clearly not gone unnoticed by Weibo.
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