A growing number of government agencies and officials in China are using microblogging services as platforms to interact with and influence the public, according to two leading Internet portals.
Weibo accounts for government agencies and officials rose to a combined 45,021 in the first half of this year, a 150 percent increase since the beginning of this year, according to a joint report released from Sina and the People's Daily Online Public Opinion Monitoring Center.
Over 25,000 of these accounts are registered with government groups, while more than 19,000 are verified personal accounts opened by officials from 34 provinces and regions, the report stated.
Along with the rise in numbers, these organizations and officials are also carving out a greater foothold in China's microblogging world. The Shanghai municipal government holds the most influential government microblog, while the Beijing police and the government of Chengdu in Sichuan Province ranked second and third respectively, according to the report. Together, these three organizations have accumulated over 8.6 million followers.
The most influential government official was the head of the Ministry of Public Security's anti-human trafficking office, Chen Shiqu, who currently has more than 2.2 million followers.
Influence was measured in the report by the number of active followers, comment activity and thread reposting.
"Government agencies are becoming more aware of how to use this online platform to publish information instantly and learn about the public's concerns," Xie Yungeng, director of the public opinion study laboratory at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, told the Global Times.
Xie also said that the government and officials are also showing an increasing willingness to send out messages, and are using more playful and lively language that is welcomed by Internet users.
Among the top 200 most influential government weibo accounts, 85 of them were opened by police departments, which outnumbered other government organs. Second among this group were the accounts created by the press offices of local government, which totaled 37, followed by local tourism bureaus.
Xie said government agencies should also take advantage of their online presence to issue quick and accurate information during emergency situations.