Type of site
|Web 2.0, Social network service, Online music, movie and book database|
|Key people||Yang Bo|
|Launched||March 6, 2005|
Douban.com (Chinese: 豆瓣; pinyin: Dòubàn), launched on 6 March 2005, is a Chinese online database and social networking service that allows registered users to record information and create content related to film, books, music, recent events, and activities in Chinese cities. Douban is named after a Hutong in Chaoyang District, Beijing where the founder lived while he began work on the website.
Douban was formerly open to both registered and unregistered users. For registered users, the website recommends potentially interesting books, movies, and music to them in addition to serving as a social network website such as WeChat, Weibo and record keeper. For unregistered users, the website is a place to find ratings and reviews of media.
Douban has about 200 million registered users as of 2013 and some Chinese authors as well as critics register their official personal pages on the site. The platform has been compared to other review sites such as IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes and Goodreads.
Douban (Beijing Douwang Technology Co. Ltd.) was founded by Yang Bo (杨勃). He majored in physics at Tsinghua University before he attended University of California, San Diego as a PhD student. After receiving his PhD in computational physics, he worked as a research scientist at IBM. Later, he returned to China, becoming the CTO of a software company founded by one of his friends.
In 2005, Yang started to create a website for travelling named Lüzong (驴宗), initially a one-person project at a Starbucks in Beijing. In a couple of months, however, the site was transformed into what is now known as Douban.com.
Douban has attracted a large number of intellectuals who are eager to discuss social issues. This makes Douban vulnerable to censorship by the Chinese government. Douban reviews all content posted on the website, preventing some material from being posted in the first place, and taking down other materials after the fact.
In March 2009, Douban removed art paintings of the Renaissance on the grounds that they contained 'pornographic' elements. This led to a campaign called "Portraits: Dress up" in which internet users were asked to dress up images of famous renaissance nudes in a protest against Douban's self-censorship. The administrators then removed the discussion about the campaign.
That year also saw the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, and Douban further extended its keyword list to ban any terms that are likely to relate to the incident. This angered some members, causing them to move to other similar websites that employ less strict self-censorship policies.
In 2011, some Chinese lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) groups announced that they had planned to boycott Douban as their posts announcing an LGBT-themed film festival had been censored by the website. In mainland China, films and television programs with LGBT themes are subject to state censorship.
Douban has been accused that many users of Douban purposely gave The Wandering Earth, a 2019 Chinese science-fiction film, one star. Critics further accused that some users "change their given five stars to one star" and some users are paid to give one star to the film, which later turned out to be false. On 12 February 2019, Douban officially announced that "mass score-changing is abnormal and it won't be counted in the total score. To avoid such incidents, we are urgently optimizing product features." in its official Sina Weibo account.