You Call it Lurking, I Call it Web-Based Learning 

Note: This article is the second in a two-part series. If you haven’t seen part 1, we suggest you read that first.

Hopefully, we’ve convinced you that if you’re learning Chinese, all that time you spend staring at pictures of other people’s avocado toast on social media doesn’t have to be considered wasted. In part 1 we introduced some basic terms for discussing and using social media in Chinese; what follows are a few more advanced terms you’ll need to master if you want to become a true online citizen in today’s China.

6. 分享fēnxiǎng: share

While the previously mentioned 发微博/发朋友群fā wēibó/fā péngyǒuqún (see part 1) refers specifically to the act of “posting” content to a social media platform, 分享fēnxiǎng can also be used with the broader sense of “sharing” something with an audience.

Don’t forget to share those pictures of our trip on WeChat so we can all see them!


Nǐ bié wàngle bǎ lǚxíng de zhàopiàn wéixìn shàng fēnxiǎng gěi wǒmen.

Chinese social media

7. 表情包biǎoqíngbāo: meme

Meme culture is alive and well in China. The term 表情包biǎoqíngbāo refers specifically to an image with added text usually created with the purpose of being shared online. Chinese memes often make use of internet slang, regional dialects, and expressions/words derived from other languages like English, Japanese or Korean mixed with Mandarin.

Chinese social media

A meme featuring a picture of Chinese actor Ge You went viral last year.


qùnián géyōu tǎng de biǎoqíngbāo zài wǎngluò fēng chuán

Chinese social media

Supplementary:贴纸tiēzhǐ: sticker

This term specifically refers to gifs/images (often user-generated) shared within WeChat, many of which are themselves memes.

8.网红wǎnghóng: internet celebrity/social media influencer/internet famous

This is one of the most common, and most flexible expressions used when discussing social media in Chinese. In its broadest sense, it refers to something or someone that has become famous online, often due to social media exposure. Note that it can be used both as a noun and adjective, but when it is used as a noun it usually refers to a person.

Papi Jiang became an internet celebrity overnight after her videos went viral on social media.


zài tā dì yī gè shìpín zài wǎngshàng bèi fēng chuán hòu, Papi jiàng zài wǎngshàng yīyè biàn wǎnghóng.

Chinese social media

That many people lining up, they must be there to buy some internet-famous food.


zhè duō rén páiduì, zhè jiā diàn kěndìng yòu shì yījiā wǎnghóng diàn.

Chinese social media

9. 刷shuā: to swipe/to browse/to use

The verb 刷 generally refers to a swiping or brushing action; it is also related to 刷新shuāxīn which means “to refresh” (of a browser/program).  When paired with Weibo or WeChat Moments it means to browse or look at others’ posts.

I browse Weibo every morning.


wǒ měitiān zǎoshang shuā wēibó.

Chinese social media
Chinese social media

Why do you have to always spend so much time looking at WeChat Moments?


nǐ wèishénme yídìng yào huā zhème duō shíjiān zài shuā péngyǒuquān?

Please don’t use WeChat during class.


shàngkè de shíhou qǐng búyào shuā wēixìn.

Note how the meaning of 刷 can change depending on the object:

刷朋友圈: look at/browse WeChat Moments

刷微信: use/chat on WeChat

10. 刷屏shuāpíng: flooding/spamming

This word refers to the act of making a large number of posts in a short time, either on social media or within a chat room/forum. In the latter instance, it is usually done by a rival online group with the purpose of overwhelming the server/host and causing it to crash. These attacks are commonly related to disputes over political issues or disagreements between rival fan groups of pop idols (or sometimes a bit of both).

Chinese social media

I really want to block Luke from my WeChat Moments. Ever since he started a WeChat store he spams my Moments every day with advertisements.


wǒ zhēnde xiǎng píngbì Luke de péngyǒuquān, zìcóng tā zuòle wēishāng jiù tiāntiān shuāpíng mài dōngxī.

From the perspective of a language learner, one of the great things about the internet is that it gives you the chance to directly experience how native speakers use their own language without ever leaving your computer chair. Languages are, after all, constantly changing, and social media is one of the best places to witness those changes happening first hand. Now go forth and comment, like and subscribe to your heart’s content!

Interested in learning more about how Chinese is used online? Check out our previous articles here and here!

If you’re interested in fully supported language classes or internships in China, consider applying for one of our award-winning programs today!