updated 07:00 pm EDT, Mon May 28, 2012
Requires users to register with real names, follow Chinese law
China's biggest microblogging service, the Twitter-like Weibo, has mandated a new "user's code of conduct" for its estimated 300 million members. The new rules on user interactions restrict the type of messages that can be posted compared to previous guidelines. Prohibitions include revealing national secrets, threatening China's honor, promotions of cults or superstitions, calls for illegal protests or flash mobs, rumor distribution, or personal attacks. The move comes after the Chinese government ordered Weibo and its competitors to ensure all members registered their real identities by March.
Weibo will track users' behavior with a credit system, similar to some message boards' "karma" or "reputation" systems. Users are reported to start with 80 points. The point balance climbs when users take place in sanctioned promotional activities, but lose points if any of the rules are broken. If a subscriber's points drop below 60, a low credit warning will appear, with account cancellation occurring if the user's account falls to zero.
The behavior rules are not unique to Weibo. The rules are derived from Chinese law, and in theory apply to all posts regardless of the service's own rules. A group composed of subscribers will be charged with rule enforcement and policing of the community.
Chinese authorities have been critical of false news reports that have spread through microblogs, including stories of a military coup, and an assassination plot directed towards North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The official news agency Xinhua reported that the sites "pledged to strengthen management" after being called to task for actions unpopular with the government.