Beijing orders microbloggers to register real names

Dec 16, 2011 by Allison Jackson
Customers use their laptop computers at a cafe in Beijing. Beijing city authorities on Friday issued new rules requiring microbloggers to register their real names before posting online, as the Chinese government tightens its grip on the Internet.

Beijing city authorities on Friday issued new rules requiring microbloggers to register their real names before posting online, as the Chinese government tightens its grip on the Internet.

The city now requires users of weibos -- the Chinese version of -- to give their real names to website administrators, its official news portal said.

The new rules will apply to weibo operators based in Beijing, which include Sina -- owner of China's most popular microblogging service which has more than 200 million users.

"Websites with weibo operations must establish and improve a system of content censorship," according to the new rules.

"It is the weibo users' legal duty to use their true ID information to register."

AFP calls to Sina, Netease and Sohu -- two other Beijing-based weibo operators -- went unanswered.

Residents of Wukan, a fishing village in the southern province of Guangdong march to demand the government take action over illegal land grabs and the death in custody of a local leader on December 15, 2011. This week, despite attempts to censor the web and a virtual blackout in China's state-run media, weibos have buzzed with news of the protest

With more than half a billion Chinese now online, authorities in Beijing are concerned about the power of the Internet to influence public opinion in a country that maintains tight controls on its .

Ordinary Chinese are increasingly using weibos to vent their anger and frustration over official corruption, scandals and disasters.

A weibo user is believed to have broken the news of a deadly high-speed rail crash in China in July that provoked widespread condemnation of the government -- much of it online.

This week, despite attempts to censor the web and a virtual blackout in China's state-run media, weibos have buzzed with news of a protest involving thousands of villagers in the southern province of Guangdong.

Residents in Wukan, which has been under police blockade, have posted information and photos online of their daily rallies to demand justice over land seizures and a local leader's death.

Leading Internet and technology firms have already been pressured to tighten their grip on the web as Chinese leaders try to keep a lid on social unrest in the lead up to a once-in-a-decade leadership transition that begins next year.

Last month the heads of 40 companies, including e-commerce giant Alibaba, search engine Baidu and Sina, vowed to stop the "spread of harmful information" on the web after attending a three-day government workshop.

The seminar was held after propaganda chief Li Changchun, fifth in the Communist Party hierarchy, met the heads of China's main search engine Baidu in September.

That same month, the head of Sina said the web giant had set up "rumour-curbing teams", apparently in response to government pressure.

The Internet has posed a huge challenge to government attempts to block content it deems politically sensitive through a censorship system known as the "Great Firewall".

The number of weibo users has more than trebled since the end of 2010, according to government data, and the speed with which they have taken off has made it impossible for censors to keep up.

Explore further: Startups offer banking for smartphone users

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Top China official urges more 'forceful' web controls

Dec 11, 2011

A top Chinese government official has urged authorities to be "more forceful" in the way they manage the web, state media said, as Beijing tries to tighten online controls over fears of social unrest.

China microblog users top 300 million: reports

Nov 22, 2011

More than 300 million people in China now have microblogging accounts, a state-run newspaper reported, as the country's fast-growing online population seeks to bypass tight media controls.

China social networking site warns bloggers

Aug 27, 2011

A popular Twitter-like service in China has contacted millions of users warning them to ignore false reports, in a sign of growing official unease over the rise of social networking sites.

China microblogging site to tighten controls

Sep 19, 2011

China's popular micoblogging site Weibo said it was tightening controls over its Twitter-like service, state press said Monday, amid concerns over growing government interference on the web.

China's biggest microblog tops 200 million users

Aug 18, 2011

A popular social networking service used by Chinese people to vent their anger over a deadly July train crash now has more than 200 million users, owner Sina.com said Thursday.

Recommended for you

Startups offer banking for smartphone users

Aug 30, 2014

The latest banks are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Startups, such as Moven and Simple, offer banking that's designed specifically for smartphones, enabling users to track their spending on the go. Some things ...

'SwaziLeaks' looks to shake up jet-setting monarchy

Aug 29, 2014

As WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange prepares to end a two-year forced stay at Ecuador's London embassy, he may take comfort in knowing he inspired resistance to secrecy in places as far away as Swaziland.

Ecuador heralds digital currency plans (Update)

Aug 29, 2014

Ecuador is planning to create what it calls the world's first digital currency issued by a central bank, which some analysts believe could be a first step toward abandoning the country's existing currency, ...

WEF unveils 'crowdsourcing' push on how to run the Web

Aug 28, 2014

The World Economic Forum unveiled a project on Thursday aimed at connecting governments, businesses, academia, technicians and civil society worldwide to brainstorm the best ways to govern the Internet.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

NotAsleep
not rated yet Dec 16, 2011
Beijing Authority 1: "What are the chances we'd have over a million bloggers named Mike Oxmall?"
Beijing Authority 2: "Mike Oxmall... who would've known"