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Empirical findings show that when the calls for collective action are new or controversial, groups formed on the basis of weak ties, compared to groups based on strong ties, are more successful in recruiting members and mobilizing resources (Steinberg, 1980).

Weak ties perform better in such a situation because they are more likely to introduce diverse information (Hansen, 1999) and bring different network segments together (Granovetter, 1981).

In contrast, the anonymous groups have grown rapidly.

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A pioneering attempt was made by Papacharissi (2009), when she compared the underlying structures of three different SNSs and analyzed how their structures influence user interactions.

This lack of evidence hinders our understanding of the complexity of SNSs because the phenomenon is simplified to a handful of successful cases such as Facebook.

Coleman (1990) argued that opportunities for collective action were threatened by the decay of a wide range of traditional civic associations that were once to be the social network sites of face–to–face engagement.

Putnam (2000) found that these groups, many of which were dated from the American industrial revolution and Progressive eras, have suffered nearly universal declines in membership (often declining 50 percent from peak twentieth–century levels).

The implications of such spaces for both Chinese civil society and collective action in general are discussed.

Collective action and social network sites Collective action, as defined by Bimber and colleagues (2006), refers to a set of communication processes involving the crossing of boundaries between private and public life.

Although the functions such as search can facilitate the formation of new ties (Ellison, , 2007), these relationship–oriented sites are found to be mainly used to develop strong ties among existing social contacts (boyd and Ellison, 2007).

Users of relationship–oriented SNSs regularly interact with only a sub–portion of their listed contacts (, number of words exchanged in wall posts on Facebook) serves as the best predictor of the perceived strength of ties.

Strong ties may not be as flexible as weak ties with regard to the accommodation of change.

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