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China's biggest micro-blogging service, Sina Weibo, has been coming under increasing censorship from Chinese authorities. But plans to ramp up policing of the site are now underway, and there are signs that the new rules are turning away some users.
It's called "tweeting" in the English-speaking world, where Twitter is by far the most popular service.
But in China, the rapid sharing of brief messages with a community of followers is called "microblogging," and the most popular microblog service is Sina Weibo. Unlike Twitter, which is banned in China, Sina Weibo has always been subject to censorship over certain key terms—such as those related to "sensitive" political topics, or instances of Communist Party repression.
But until now, that censorship has mainly meant the deletion of postings, or the cancelling of user accounts. That may soon be changing. By March 16th, all Sina Weibo users are required to register under their real names, and other identifying information, so that their online activities are linked directly to their real identities.
This rule could mean more frequent real-world consequences for posters of messages disapproved of by Party authorities.
In addition to saying goodbye to anonymity, Sina and other microblog companies are also to soon have Chinese Communist Party monitoring units established in their corporate structures.
[Ma Xiaoming, Former TV News Anchor]:
"The Party's creation of these units is an attempt to strengthen its control and to bolster its position by keeping close watch over the exchange of information."