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Chinese Microbloggers to Play It Nice?

Ioana Jelea

May 28, 2012

Chinese Microbloggers to Play It Nice?

Ever since the Chinese government`s temporary ban on its comment feature, SinaWeibo, the Chinese Twitter homologue, has been devising new terms and conditions to help verify users` identity and eliminate forbidden forms of communication.

Among other things, users should not send messages that “spread rumors, disrupt social order, and destroy societal stability” or that “call for disruption of social order through illegal gatherings, formation of organizations, protests, demonstrations, mass gatherings and assemblies”, according to an anonymous translation of the new Sina Weibu Community Convention .

According to an earlier TNW report, the platform itself and members of the public reunited as a “community committee” will supervise implementation of the new regulations to come into effect today. According to the Community Convention, “the Site will directly deal with behavior in clear violation of regulations; other regulation violating behavior will be dealt after the community committee makes a determination.” The “community committee” will act as a true people`s tribunal as regular members will “pass decisions on conflicts between users”, while expert members will “determine if information is true”.

The new regulations also introduce a “credit score” assessment system in which inappropriate conduct is to be penalized by deducting points. In early May, Marbridge Daily reported that each Sina account gets an 80-point initial credit, while also being able to go up to 100 points if the user engages in promotional activities for the microblogging platform. Accounts dropping under the 60 point threshold get a “Low credit” warning, while 0 credit triggers cancellation.

Despite the regulations strictly forbidding the use of “oblique expression or other methods to get around the [“¦] restrictions”, commentators count on users` ingenuity to avoid censorship. “This is a sign of the authorities trying to restrain the internet in China, but a hardcore group of people will still find ways to get round the restraints,” said Dr Kerry Brown, head of the Asia Programme at the Chatham House think tank, in an exclusive statement for the BBC.

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