China to expand real-name registration for Twitter-like microblogs

China is already conducting trials of the real-name system in five cities

China plans to require users of the country's Twitter-like microblogs to register with their real identities, and has already begun trials of the system in five cities, according to a Chinese official.

The real-name registration marks the latest attempt by Chinese authorities to tighten control over the country's social networking sites, which have also become forums for people to express opinions critical of the government. The country's microblogging sites have about 250 million users, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.

China supports microblogs, said Wang Chen, the head of China's State Council Information Office, during a Wednesday media briefing. "Microblogs, on the one hand, can reflect the public's sentiment," he said. "They can also create accountability, and promote the society's development."

But China also wants to ensure the Internet's "healthy development", Wang said. Although microblogs can reflect the people's will, they can also be used to spread harmful and irrational opinions and information. He pointed to pornography and the fabrication of rumors as major problems.

The real-name microblog registration began as trials in the major cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou and Shenzhen from late last year. Once the pilot programs are completed, they will then be expanded to other parts of the country, Wang said. He did not give a firm date, or state specifically where the real-name registration will be expanded to.

The new regulations could scare China's Internet users from posting comments on microblogs, according to analysts. Chinese authorities have gone as far to detain microblog users accused of fabricating online rumors.

Beijing's city government announced last month it would also require users of microblogs to register with their real names. The text of the regulations states that users cannot post on topics that will damage China's national honor or lead to illegal gatherings that will disturb civil order.

"I think initially, some users will feel more cautious about what they post, or feel less inclined to post unless it is a topic they feel very strongly about," said Mark Natkin, managing director of Beijing-based Marbridge Consulting. "But over time, it will become normal and users will be less sensitive to it."

Chinese officials have yet to state how the new real-name requirements will be implemented. "In other real-name systems, it has often been discovered that it was very difficult to implement, or users found ways to circumvent them," Natkin said.

Wang said the regulation will first be enforced on new users of microblogs, and then extended to existing users. Users will still have the choice of selecting their own screen names to be displayed on their accounts.

China already censors the Internet for anti-government content, and has blocked foreign websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. A spokesman for Sina, a Chinese company operating one of the country's largest Twitter-like microblogging sites, declined to comment on the plans to enforce real-name registration.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?