When it comes to its population, the People’s Republic of China is 100% in control. The internet though, does not always like to listen to authority. That is why the government has just declared that users must provide their real information when using any and all social messaging apps inside of China. The recent declaration went so far as to say that those who wish to even just share political news on these messaging systems must be granted permission from the government beforehand.
The process of “cleaning the internet” began last year after crackdowns on the Twitter-like messengers like Weibo, and it has resulted among users abandoning these platforms in rapid succession. Chinese news agency Xinhua explained that the latest round of restrictions will have the greatest impact on messaging apps such as WeChat, Tencent’s QQ, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Laiwang app, NetEase Inc’s Yixin and Xiaomi Inc’s Miliao. It’s expected that up to 400 million users could be affected.
In addition to receiving special permission to share political news, those public accounts must be marked as such by which ever app it is on. Xinhua explained, as reported by RushHourDaily, that those accounts must also sign agreement with their providers stating “to comply with the law, the socialist system, the national interest, citizens’ legal rights, public order, social moral customs, and authenticity of information.”
Tencent, who operates WeChat and QQ, has been trying to calm its users by explaining that the new restrictions only apply to public accounts and that individual users should have nothing to worry about. Still, it is hard not to be apprehensive when an oppressive government announces they are paying more attention to your social networking than ever before.
Duncan Clark, chairman of Beijing-based tech advisory BDA, said “WeChat, and social media, are now truly mass media and regulated as such. There are challenges of course in regulating (WeChat), but the Party will never loosen up.” And their reach expands beyond the border. South Korean authorities claim that China recently blocked South Korea’s KakaoTalk messaging app and Japan’s Line messaging app in what China has declared a fight against terrorism.
Photo Credit: via flickr/Álvaro Ibáñez
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