A Social Networking Site You’ve Never Heard Of

Chinese equivalents to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have been well covered  by Western journalists, but one site that’s missing is YY.com, China’s version of YouTube. Despite having a userbase “larger than Google+ and Pinterest combined”, YY.com has been largely ignored by non-Chinese media.

One major difference between YY.com and YouTube is that the Chinese counterpart gives users the opportunity to apply entrepreneurism skills and monetize their skills directly through contributions from other users. Those with talents in karaoke or photoshop are able to receive ‘gifts’ from fans, gifts that can then be turned into non-virtual cash. One student reportedly made over $180k in a year off of her online Photoshop lessons. According to this article, the reason for this lack of media attention may be the result of the socioeconomic divide in Chinese. Users of YY.com are largely lower income workers. and Chinese media is more likely to cover sites that cater to the rising middle class.  This is an interesting study in internet communities, and challenges the notion that the internet is a free marketplace where innovation wins out over pre-existing ‘real-world’ social strata. Despite it’s online success, YY.com was unable to break through institutional barriers in publicity in the stringent Chinese media machine.

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