Social Media Week in Jakarta offers a chance to hear from Buzzfeed, Twitter, Path and the city government

IndonesiaJakarta has just become the first Southeast Asian city to join the global Social Media Week (SMW) network. The conference with international and local speakers is taking place this week at Pacific Place Mall and other satellite venues in the Indonesian capital, and showcases the use and importance of social media for corporations, small and medium-sized businesses, media, and government.

Chinese web users react to Mark Zuckerberg speaking Chinese in his Spring Festival video

China.gifIn case you missed it while you were filling your belly with dumplings and your sky with fireworks over the holiday period, China’s tech companies weren’t the only ones getting into the Spring Festival spirit. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who got some attention for speaking Mandarin at a public forum last year, put his language skills on the line again to wish Mandarin speakers of the world a happy Chinese new year. Here’s the video:

How Line is turning Instagram into an ecommerce app in Thailand

ThailandLine and Instagram stand out as two of the hottest social apps in Thailand. Line is the dominant messenging platform in the nation, with over 33 million registered users. Messaging with Line has become so quotidien – one entrepreneur told me about how her mother operates several Line groups for her various circles of friends – that the app has emerged as arguably the most trusted channel of interaction outside a physical encounter.

Sina Weibo’s Spring Festival tweet explosion was 46% more explosive than last year

ChinaThe year of the sheep is here! And with it, as usual, come crazy engagement numbers from Sina Weibo. Unsurprisingly, the night’s most popular messages came from the service’s top celebrities. Taking home the crown this year was model/actress Angelababy, whose photo of herself in the kitchen (below) along with the message “Like this and earn big in the new year!” has been liked over 3 million times already.

WeChat users sent each other 1 billion cash-filled red envelopes last night

ChinaLast night was Chinese New Year’s Eve. Amidst all the other festivities, China’s WeChat users sent each other an astonishing 1.01 billion red envelopes (pictured above), the social media company revealed this afternoon. The virtual red envelopes stuffed with actual cash, which mirror a long-held gift-giving tradition at Chinese New Year, are a growing trend in China as people make more use of online payment methods.

Not satisfied with Monster Strike, Mixi acquires Japanese fashion startup

JapanMixi is showing interest in the world outside Monster Strike, the game that saved the firm and turned it into a billion dollar company. Today, Mixi announced it acquired Muse & Co., an ecommerce site targeting high-end shoppers. The Bridge is reporting an acquisition price of JPY 1.76 billion (US$14.8 million).

China’s WeChat sends a message to Line and Kakao in their home turf

China.gifSINGAPORE: Mobile messaging apps Line and Kakao Talk are busy trying to conquer overseas markets such as Southeast Asia and India. But they may do well to keep a close eye on their home turf of Japan and South Korea as China’s WeChat amasses more users. Among six messaging apps, WeChat saw the biggest upptick in usage in Japan and South Korea last month versus a year earlier, boosted by its gaming, e-commerce and multimedia capabilities, according to data on Android smartphones tracked by Mobidia.

Samsung releases new iOS messaging app

KoreaSamsung Electronics has released a messaging app which runs on Apple’s iOS mobile platform, the company said Sunday. Samsung developed the intra-group messaging app, Square, after it shut down its ChatON service, everywhere apart from the United States, last month. It unveiled the iOS version for its employees using iPhones. “Our employees using iPhones will be able to use our new messaging app Square. We don’t force our workers to use Samsung devices and we respect our employees’ device selection,” a company official said.

Number of Line users to top 700 mil. this year

KoreaThe number of users Line, the Naver’s mobile messenger app, is expected to exceed 700 million this year, according to officials and analysts Sunday. Naver saw the number of users cross 600 million recently. “The number of users continues to grow and we see the number exceeding 10 million in 13 countries, including Turkey,” said Hwang In-joon, chief financial official (CFO) at Naver, during a recent conference call with investors.

LinkedIn Doubles User Base in China Amid Social Media Censorship

ChinaLinkedIn has increased its user base in China from four million to eight million, according to its earnings report released Thursday. This doubled size in user base proves that despite the government’s strict censorship, foreign social networking sites still stand a chance in China. The business-oriented social networking service officially entered China in February 2014 with the launch of Lingying, its Chinese language site. By then, it already had about fourmillion members in its English language site.

Government Censorship Curbs Social Media Use in China

ChinaIn the span of one year, the number of people in China that see the positive impact of social media has dropped significantly. A recent study reveals 68 percent of users in 2014 think social media makes their life better, a 12 percent drop from the previous year. In 2013, QQzone emerged as the top social media channel. According to survey conducted by Kantar, a market research firm, the top three social media channels are WeChat, QQzone and Weibo.

China demands use of real names in social media accounts

ChinaTo eliminate fake social media accounts that impersonate public figures, the Chinese government has issued new rules that go much further and outlaw anonymity in blogs, social networks, discussion forums and IM services. The move, announced Wednesday, is the latest in a recent string of Chinese government actions that have increased online censorship in the country.

Two guys from Japan are building a social network for ramen lovers

JapanWhile working for Japanese tech giant Fujitsu in the 1990s and 2000s, Toru Domon had a lot of opportunities to travel around the world. A native of Sapporo, the largest city in Japan’s northernmost (and least populated) island of Hokkaido, he had moved to Kawasaki – on the bustling outskirts of Tokyo – to pursue his career as a communications engineer. The job required him to attend up to 10 overseas conferences a year to learn about wireless communication standardization.

Facebook hits 449M monthly active users in Asia, only monetizes $1.27 per person

APACFacebook shows no signs of slowing down in Asia Pacific. The social network’s 4th quarter earnings release shows that its expansion in the region continues to outpace Europe, US/Canada, and the nebulously titled, “rest of world.” Adding an additional 23 million monthly active users (MAU), Facebook now has 449 million MAUs in Asia, a 51 percent increase from the same period two years ago.

Desktop version of WeChat comes to Windows PC nearly one year after Mac

ChinaWeChat, the mobile messaging juggernaut from China, unleashed the Windows PC version of its app (h/t QQ Tech). This comes nearly a year after the Mac client was released last February. Just like the Mac version, WeChat for Windows is fairly barebones. You won’t find the treasure trove of features and functions available on the mobile version, just basic messaging and file transfers.

Hike Messenger adds free voice calling

IndiaA few weeks after the acquisition of US-based voice-calling company Zip Phone, India’s Hike today announced its free voice calling feature that works over 2G, 3G, or wifi. Hike’s voice calling is now in beta on the Android version of the app; it’ll arrive on iOS and Windows phones by the end of this quarter.  With the slow mobile internet in India and a small percentage of mobile users accessing 3G and 4G, Hike aims to please the mass market with the app’s low bandwidth consumption.

Facebook unveils ‘lite’ app for emerging markets

APACWASHINGTON: Facebook said on Monday (Jan 26) it is testing a lightweight version of its mobile app for mobile phones with poor-quality internet connections in emerging markets. A spokesman told AFP in an email that the “Facebook Lite” Android app is designed “for people on 2G (second-generation) connections or in areas of limited Internet accessibility.” The move expands Facebook’s efforts to grow the world’s biggest social network, which already has more than a billion users.

Bangladesh shuts down messaging services to quell violence

DHAKA – Bangladeshi telecoms authorities Sunday shut down smartphone messaging and voice services Viber and Tango, which have become a popular communication medium for supporters of the anti-government protests now in their third week.  The Bangladesh Telecommunications and Regulatory Commission closed down the apps “for the time being” on orders from law enforcement and security agencies, a commission spokesman told AFP.

Tumblr, still not blocked in China, soon to offer Chinese version

Free blogging and social networking site Tumblr is working on a Chinese version of its platform, according to iFanr. Some Tumblr users in China received invites to join the closed beta test of the translated site. While blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger are blocked by China’s Great Firewall on the mainland, Tumblr is not (I used it to blog before starting this job for that reason). That’s probably due to the site not having a Chinese version and most of the content being more fun and shareable rather than serious and informative.

Alibaba’s latest mobile messaging effort: Social networking for businesses

BEIJING – China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, the world’s biggest e-commerce company, is piloting a mobile messaging app aimed at marrying social networking with business, an Alibaba spokeswoman said on Friday, as the company expands its enterprise services. The app, called DingTalk, was quietly made available in December and is still in beta testing, according to its website. ( Capable of carrying conference calls and group messaging, DingTalk targets small- and medium-sized enterprises, many of which are already Alibaba’s customers.