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China Ups Social Media and Private Browsing Rules

Fake Names, Anyone? 

China is stepping up its social media rules by requiring that people who sign up for certain sites be forced to use their real names.

mashable.com

The main target of this change will be China’s Twitter counterpart: ‘Sina Weibo’.

You might think that this could be bold steps to counter online bullying and trolling in aims to protect people who feel persecuted online on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, it’s more than likely that China is actually hoping to just gain a greater level of censorship across all online channels. Oh China, that’s not very good, is it? Sina Weibo is already heavily moderated and censored. Anything that comes up with any blacklisted words is not even allowed on the site. Their censorship borders a bit on the crazy sometimes. For a while in June 2013, the words of ‘Tonight’ and ‘Today’ were blocked from the site. Maybe they were bored of everyone being happy about it being a Friday?

Ironically, Sina Weibo remains one of the last bastions of the Chinese internet where any free speech can be found.

techinasia.net

However, with this new update in rules, it looks like this could be changing very soon.

With these new rules, for any website where you can sign up with a nickname or alter-ego, you would also have to provide your full name alongside it, else you won’t be allowed to create an account.
How they'll counter people simply using false names is beyond me, but I'm sure that they're actively working on a way to stop that, sadly. 

The nations Cyberspace Administration (The Internet Police) have also recently shut down 24 websites, 9 blogs and 17 Weibo accounts. The administration claimed that they were deleted as they:
‘Posed as official media or government departments to release false information, carried news stories without obtaining permits from the authority and allowed pornographic or other illegal posts.’

It’s probably quite safe to take this response with a grain (or pile) of salt.

Among the 24 websites were two grassroots anti-corruption websites that carried petitions backed by members of the public, who wanted to expose corruption and wrongdoings by local officials that have yet to be listed on the website of China’s anti-graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

Internet censorship is never a wise move to take by any government. More than anything, it’s always important to understand that you never truly can censor the internet, there’s always a way around any form of censorship.

Just look at the Pirate Bay. After being censored it’s traffic exploded. After being shut down recently, it’s once again back up.

Additionally, today China has banned three of the largest VPN services availableA VPN works by setting up a dedicated, encrypted link between a person's computer and the website or service they want to use and makes spying on the data flowing across the connection difficult. With this change, people in China will have difficulties accessing sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. Oh dear, it's censorship gone mad. 

Here's hoping that China’s internet gets some of its freedom back.


Tom has just graduated from University of East London in Creative and Professional Writing. He loves writing and he currently manages, edits and writes for this blog. His other loves include Arnold Schwarzenegger films and his dog. Follow him @TomAtSMF

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China Ups Social Media and Private Browsing Rules Reviewed by Tom Welby on Monday, January 26, 2015 Rating: 5
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