To purge online rumors and enhance social credibility, Shanghai is going to require real-name tweeting registration on Monday , following similar moves adopted by other big cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou, municipal authorities said Sunday.
Shanghai to require real-name weibo registration.[File photo]
The new rules currently apply to new users, including private and corporate users, who are required to submit their real identities upon registration, the municipal authorities said, adding that the rules are expected soon to cover all valid users.
While identities are processed by web administrators for necessary verification, users are still free to pick either their real or screen names on webpages.
The new rules are made, "in line with Chinese laws and regulations," to "foster a healthy Internet culture" and "better manage social networking websites and instant-messaging tools," the municipal authorities said.
Beijing took the lead on December 16 to require municipal tweeting service providers to register users with real names. Guangzhou and Shenzhen followed suit.
According to statistics released by the China Internet Network Information Center earlier this year, China had 63 million tweeting users at the end of 2010, accounting for 13.8 percent of 457 million Internet users.
Real-name registration is considered part of the country's efforts to strengthen the management of new media, including the Internet.
In a guideline adopted by central authorities on Oct. 18 at the sixth plenary session of the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), it was proposed that Internet security should be highlighted, online information spreading should be regulated, and a cultivated and rational Internet environment should be fostered to promote the credibility of new media.
"The implementation of real-name registration will create an information-filtering mechanism that will remind microbloggers of self-discipline in writing or duplicating postings," said Yin Hong, a journalism professor at Tsinghua University.
"The move will enhance the authenticity and reliability of Internet information to some extent," Yin said.
But Yin noted that the measure needed to be implemented legally.
"To require real-name registration doesn't necessarily mean that each word released by microbloggers must be real and accurate, which even the press isn't able to guarantee," Yin said, noting that the measure will urge microbloggers to take a more responsible attitude.
"Internet users need to enjoy the freedom of speech, which must be assured," Yin said.