Pic: AP.

BEIJING (AP) — 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.