New Rules for Sina Weibo Users in China Take Effect May 28
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This is the VOA Special English Technology Report.
Recent developments in India and China have put the issue of Internet censorship back in the news. Last week, China’s largest microblogging service announced new policies that will restrict what its users can place online.
Sina Weibo is a service like Twitter. It lets users publish text and pictures in real time. There are about three hundred million Sina Weibo users. The service has been under increasing pressure from the Chinese government to better censor its content.
Last week, Sina Weibo announced new policies aimed at preventing what it called offensive or questionable material from being posted online. This includes information that is said to be false or threatens the honor of the nation. It also includes postings that it says support evil teachings or destroy the security of society.
Many web users have criticized the new policies. They say they will restrict free speech. Chad Catacchio is an American-based blogger who follows technology news out of China. He agrees with others who say similar policies have been in place all along.
CHAD CATACCHIO: "These kinds of rules have existed for a while on the Internet in China, so I wouldn't say anything is necessarily a surprise. Take it for what it is, but on a positive side at least it’s…they are putting it in writing publicly. What that means and if that's good for the users, that's very far to be seen."
Sina Weibo’s new policies are set to take effect on May twenty-eighth. Last month, the company deleted several user accounts after stories of a possible government overthrow spread across its service.
It was among several microblogging services that the Chinese government punished for failing to restrict the false stories. Also in March, the government announced new rules requiring microblog users to register their accounts using their real names.
China has more than five hundred thirteen million Internet users. The country has taken great steps to control Internet use. It has one of the largest and most developed censorship systems in the world. Websites like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are banned in the country.
In other news last week, the Delhi High Court in India once again delayed censorship hearings against Facebook and Google. It is the second time the hearings have been delayed this year. The two companies are part of a group of companies accused of not censoring offensive content on their websites. The Delhi High Court has set the new hearing date for August seventh.
And that's the VOA Special English Technology Report, written by June Simms. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our reports are at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm June Simms.