Social media and apps in China
With the advent of smartphones and social media, Chinese people’s ways of communicating and sharing events with family and friends have changed. Today some 800 million people in China have access to the Internet and the vast majority of them, some 98 per cent, access the Internet through their smartphones. The most popular Chinese social media app, WeChat, has over 1 billion monthly active users. International photo apps such a Instagram are blocked in China and instead some domestic apps have appeared on the market such as Tuchong and Kuaipai.
The photo app Kuaipai, kuaipai 快拍，快拍 was set up in 2015 by the newspaper Dushi kuaibao in Hangzhou. It is today used by some 50 000 people in China. People share photos and take part in both online and offline activities, competitions, and exhibitions.
In 2018 I was asked to be one of the curators during the Chinese New Year. My task was to select and comment upon photos during a couple of days. During the two weeks the competition was open some 5000 photos were uploaded on the app. The photos provide a glimpse of how the Chinese New Year is celebrated in different parts of China. Around 50 photos were later exhibited at the Hangzhou Municipal Library.
The current exhibition at the Centre consists of selected photos from the competition as well as images showing how the app looks and is used. The exhibition provides a sense of how photos are seen and shared on the app and how it works with comments and likes. From the images in the exhibition one also gets a sense of how embedded smartphone and social media use are in Chinese people’s lives. People not only send greetings and photos via social media but the old tradition of sending money in so-called red envelopes are also done online today.