China's biggest microblogging service has introduced a code of conduct explicitly restricting the type of messages that can be posted.
Weibo - which resembles Twitter - took the action after local authorities criticised "unfounded" rumours posted by some users.
Reports suggest a credit score system will also be introduced with points deducted for rule breaches.
Repeat offenders face having their accounts deleted.
Clearly no good will come of this. But for the sake of fairness let's look at what will be restricted.
The "community convention" says its members may not use the service to:
- Spread rumours
- Publish untrue information
- Attack others with personal insults or libellous comments
- Oppose the basic principles of China's constitution
- Reveal national secrets
- Threaten China's honour
- Promote cults or superstitions
- Call for illegal protests or mass gatherings
It adds that members must not use "oblique expressions or other methods" to circumvent the rules.
Users have sometimes abbreviated names or used code words to avoid detection in the past.
I love that they have to say it's against the rules to work around the rules, Yeah, I'm sure that'll go over about as well as respect for internation copyright in China. Not that I'm complaining about Chinese net users screwing with the government. I've been to China and been saddled with a goverment minder which offended me as a free man on an almost primal level.
But to me this just seems like another almost laughable attempt by the Chinese government to control new media. Just look at the Fifty Cent Party ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/50_Cent_Party ) if you want to see another example. But if nothing else young Chinese are very tech savvy so I'm sure this will ultimately be meaningless to anyone who want to actually get away with anything. Meanwhile, normal Chinese people will continue to shoot off the normal, pointless drival that Western people use Twitter for.
But at the end of the day I think this is really just the Chinese government trying to stick its finger in the dyke. It would be almost comical if it weren't a sign of the lack of human rights in China continuing.