The Chinese government appears ready to take a serious hold of micro-blogging sites using new recently passed regulations.
Authorities in China have been wary of micro-blogging since its inception but even more so following the Arab spring which saw social networks and micro blogs play a key role in toppling autocratic regimes.
New regulations were issued relating to micro-blogging and now it seems they are to be enforced.
The China Digital Times said “Weibo” the Chinese version of Twitter, has become a mighty conduit for sharing information, expressing political views, challenging officialdom and spreading rumours. Efforts to quell those rumours are being seen by some observers as a bid to close an avenue of anonymous digital dissent on the mainland.
It quoted the South China Morning Post which reported the controls may include issuing licenses to those microblogging sites that “can effectively eliminate rumours”, Song said. “Just like a supermarket, the food safety watchdog would hardly allow the operation of a supermarket if it regularly sold counterfeit or poisonous food.”
Leading mainland internet expert Professor Li Yonggang said the government might target bloggers with more than 50,000 or 100,000 followers for tighter control.
As tighter control usually results in a withering of business, microblog operators are taking the issue seriously. A Guangzhou-based new media industry insider said a handful of top executives from various mainland microblog operators held a low-profile meeting in Guangzhou last month and discussed how to respond to the expected regulations.
The new controls reflect a growing concern among government leaders over dissent and perceived rumor mongering from an online population that now exceeds 500 million, as evidenced by recent crackdowns reported last week via CDT.