New Regulation Requires Weibo Users to Register Real Identities
In a deadline given by the Chinese Government given to Sina Corp. last December, the operator of the micro blogging platform Weibo.com in China will require the blogging platform’s users to register their real identities with the company by March 16, 2012.
Directives from several city governments namely (Beijing, Guangzhou, Tianjin Shanghai and Shenzhen) will also require Weibo users to submit and register their mobile phone numbers, which will go through a verification process. Once the user’s identity is verified they will then be allowed to post messages on Weibo. However, Sina believes implementing this regulation might hurt the company’s user growth.
In the last couple of years, Weibo has gained massive popularity. The micro blogging platform, which is similar to Twitter in the U.S., accumulated more than 250 million registered users. By continuously adding features such as apps, games and virtual currency, Sina was able to transform the micro blog into a full blown social networking site. In past months Sina has been under pressure with the Chinese government imposing restrictions on user content.
The micro blogging website has approximately 100 million messages and comments everyday, and Sina has been lenient with its content compared with other social networking websites on the mainland. Sina deletes all inflammatory postings but allows other posts to stay on the site. Several years ago, Sina along with several other internet companies were reprimanded and were asked to tighten their control over online material.
A government-sanctioned industry group The Beijing Internet Media Association, called on its 104 member companies to filter Internet content. The association said that some of the micro blogs are sources of baseless rumors and false news that are tarnishing the government image to the public.
Over the years, China has been sensitive regarding internet usage and has already administered restrictions, blocking several online search engines and social networking sites.