Differences between Weibo and Twitter

Please note I wrote this blog post in 2011. Both Weibo and Twitter changed dramatically. The info here may not be accurate now.

Weibo is considered as China’s Twitter. Yet Weibo combined the simplicity of Twitter with more social functions. In a word, Weibo is more like a hybrid of Facebook and Twitter.

Weibo.com logo
Weibo.com logo

I listed some significant differences below. Just for your convenience. If you are a developer, this could be helpful to understand Weibo.


  • The followers on Twitter is fans on Weibo.
  • The following on Twitter is subscribe on Weibo.
  • A tweet is called a weibo or a weibo post on Weibo.
  • To retweet on Twitter is to repost on Weibo.

The length of a message

Twitter limits each tweet to 140 characters (no matter Chinese or western). Weibo’s limit is 140 Chinese characters or 280 western characters. Since Chinese carries more info in each character, Weibo users can express so much more in 140.


Weibo counts all links outside weibo.com as six(6) characters. The weibo.com links is counted as one (1) character. While twitter counts the length of links.

Weibo automatically shrink all links to t.cn service. Twitter shrinks links longer than 20 characters and 3rd party link shorteners were allowed. (Twitter just launched t.co on its web site and official mobile clients. 3rd link shorteners could be removed.)

Multimedia contents

Image: Weibo allows users to upload pictures. Weibo hosts the pictures on our own site. Weibo will show a thumbnail in the timeline feeds. Twitter just added image support (Twitter teams up with Photobucket).No thumbnails in the timeline. A larger thumbnail will show up at sidebar if you click the tweet.

Video: Users can’t upload videos directly to weibo. They can post links from video hosting sites(e.g. youku, tudou, ku6, youtube ,etc) and weibo will embed a thumbnail image in the timeline. User can play the video by clicking it. Twitter treats video as pictures: no thumbnails in timeline, shown on sidebars.

Music: Weibo has a universal music player(in flash). It plays all music either from music sharing sites(legal sites as Sina’s Yueku, etc.) or self-hosting MP3 files.

Retweet / Repost

Twitter user can share the tweet with her/his followers by retweeting. The tweet to be shared can’t be modified. On weibo, user can do more than that. She or he can add comments or opinions to the retweeted tweet.

Your opinion is limited to 140 Chinese or 280 western characters.

If you repost from another repost. You will share the length with previous repost. There will be a double slash to separate the two opinions. Weibo considers this as part of your post. So you can delete or edit the previous opinions.


There’s no comment on Twitter. You can do that by tweeting an @ mention. Followers can find out the thread by clicking the tweet. A conversation will be available at sidebar.

The @ mention, however, is another tweet. It will be visible in timelines of followers of both sides. For example. If A follows C and D but not B. A will see this “C: @D xxx” but not this ”C: @B xxx”.

Weibo has comments system like Facebook. The comment is technically visible to all. But will not appear in anyone’s timeline, unless the user checks “Repost to my weibo too”. This checkbox is off by default.

Length limit of comments is exactly same with that of tweets (weibo posts).


Twitter’s timeline is texts only. Weibo’s timeline has thumbnails for pictures, video and music players.

A weibo post could handle more than one multimedia content. Since only one picture is allowed, the picture thumbnail will always be there. Weibo will show the music or video player for the first multimedia link. The other links are also there. If you click on that, the player will be replaced.


There are different verifications in Weibo. Weibo gives people(celebrities) the orange V sign. The companies and organizations are verified with blue V sign. While twitter has only one verified logo for all.


There is no protected tweets mode in weibo.


The lists in weibo is private. No one will know which group she/he is in. Twitter’s lists are public.

Direct Messages

There is no way to send DM to a Twitter user who is not following you. Weibo has an option to open the gate to everyone. Even this option is off, a user can reply once by DM to whoever sent a DM. This is very helpful for people to communicate with fans (followers) without following a random one.


I am currently an employee of Weibo. I receive a salary from them. The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent Weibo’s positions, strategies or opinions.

3 Replies to “Differences between Weibo and Twitter”

  1. Hi there,

    Sounds like Weibo is the best of both worlds; would definately be my chose for personal use –
    FB is haeding to obselete for personal as fast becoming a business platform only.

    What service privider in China in the social digital space covers this FB phenonmena in your opinion …?

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