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Amid competition and crackdown, China reports a 9 percent decline in microblog users in 2013

The number of online microblog users in China dropped by more than 27.8 million last year, marking the first major decline in popularity of a social media genre that has offered a way to share unfiltered information in a country with strict controls.

The drop comes amid a crackdown on microblogs deemed sensitive by government authorities and new controls on what can be posted and reposted.

At the same time, there has been a significant increase in users of new cellphone-based social media, many of which include microblog-like features.

China Internet Network Information Center said in an annual report Thursday that there were 281 million users of Twitter-like microblogs such as Sina Weibo at the end of 2013, down 9 percent the previous year.