China’s Twitter-like site, Sina Weibo has introduced a points-based system and a new code of conduct which some critics say is another attempt by China to censor social media.
Weibo’s new system penalises users for posting controversial content on government-related subjects.
Weibo currently has over 300 million registered users whom must now sign a contract that lays out a series of rules of how to use the site.
Weibo users in initially start with 80 points which will be deducted if users, spread rumours, encourage gambling, insult the nation, or call for illegal protests, according to The Independent. A user’s account can be cancelled when their points drop to zero.
The government has previously set rules for Weibo users to use their own names, instead of avatars or nicknames.
The new rules for the microblogging service come after the Beijing Police and the State Internet Information Office (SIIO) reported that 16 websites were closed and six people had been taken into custody for "fabricating or disseminating online rumors," in April.
A spokesman with SIIO said the six people taken by Beijing Police were detained for spreading rumours of "military vehicles entering Beijing and something wrong going on in Beijing," according to Xinhua news agency.
The websites, meizhou.net, xn528.com and cndy.com.cn were closed for spreading said rumours.
The spokesman said the rumours have caused "a very bad influence on the public" and the websites were closed for failing to stop the spread of rumours, which is their responsibility by law.
The rumours were particularly spread through microblogging posts according to the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Public Security. The rumours of a coup appeared on two popular microblogging sites, Sina’s Weibo and Tencent. Both sites had been "criticized and punished accordingly" by Internet authorities in Beijing and Guangdong.
This comes after one of the ruling communist party’s senior leaders has faced political downfall. Bo Xilai was dismissed as party leader of Chongqing after his police chief fled to a US consulate in February. The scandal has resulted in China’s communist party preparing itself for a big leadership change this year.
In a statement Beijing police encouraged online users to follow laws and stay clear of online rumours, which according to Xinhuanet News, police say disturb public order, undermine social stability and deserve punishment.
Both microblogging sites were said to have promised to strengthen their management. The new rules by Sina’s Weibo are said to be the site’s latest attempt in cooperating with Chinese authorities.
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