Share & Connect
Social Media is everywhere; it’s all over the world. There are blogs, social networking sites, podcasts, discussion forums, photo sharing and microblogs. China even has its very own microblog. It is so popular and rapidly growing that, in fact, an anonymous group of individuals in China have created their own version of Twitter. This is China’s largest microblogging service, and “critics are saying this is the latest attempt of the Chinese Government to censor social media,” according to Chinese Correspondent, Angus Walker. This microblog is known as Sina Weibo and has an estimated 300 million users.
Speculation of censorship of the website began earlier this year after people began spreading false rumors of senior politician and former Governor of Chongqing, Bo Xilai. The government had warned users to stop, but users continued to post photographs of tanks in the streets of Beijing, “claiming a military coup was underway in the wake of the sacking of Xilai,” according to ITV News.
As a result, the government has created a rule system for all users of the microblogging system to abide by. Under this system, every user of the site will start with 80 points. A convention for the rules has been created known as the “community convention” and if a user breaks any of the rules, they will receive a deduction in points. If enough points are deducted, they will be banned from the site. Thus far, the rules are as follows:
As stated by Walker, “the company that runs the site, Sina, has not come up with the idea itself and it remains to be seen whether the regulations will be imposed and policed. Using social media to criticize government policies or chat about political events has become a new way for “netizens”, as they are called, to voice their opinions.” And, “with a half a billion people online in China, around 300 million are using microblogging sites – that is roughly the population of the United States all making comments on a regular basis.”
China has some of the strictest social media censorship regulations in the world, with Facebook still being banned in the country to this day. According to Clifford Coonan, a Beijing Reporter with ‘The Independent,’ even though micro-blogging in China started less than three years go, it has become enormously popular, with growth quadrupling last year. Nearly half of all Chinese internet users now use micro-blogs.”
Thus far, Sina has been incredibly cooperative with the rules and regulations proposed in order to avoid further censorship and clashes with the Chinese government in the future