Social Activities on Microblog: Exploring Fighting Against Human Trafficking on Weibo

Abstract

Fighting against human trafficking is one of the most popular social activities on a Chinese social media site -- Weibo. However, few researches have studied social activities on social media. This study utilized Uses and Gratification Theory to look into the motivations and gratifications audiences are seeking through engaging in this social activity on social media, and tried to find out if the specialized social media accounts dedicated to anti-human trafficking meet the audiences' needs. Specifically, the study answered the following research questions: 1. How specialized accounts use Weibo differently to spread anti-human trafficking information? 2. How audiences respond differently towards tweets about fighting against human trafficking? 3. How audiences' needs and gratifications are satisfied by these specialized accounts? A textual analysis was conducted to find out the potential needs and gratifications and the different audiences' reactions towards the related information. Then a series of semi-constructed in-depth interviews were scheduled to confirm if the prior findings are audiences' needs and gratifications. Finally, the study found that different specialized accounts have different usage patterns in updating frequency, emotional engagement and detailed expression, critical and radical expressions and tweeting styles. These different usage patterns leaded to different audience responses, and some of the patterns were confirmed as shared needs and motivations, while interviewees had different needs and preferences on other patterns and features. This study intended to improve the communication efficiency for similar online activities and to enhance social media's sense of social responsibility. Keywords: social media, microblog, Weibo, human trafficking



Author Information
Anli Xiao, University of Missouri-Columbia, United States

Paper Information
Conference: MediAsia2013
Stream: Media Studies

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