June 20, 2013 | 10:51 AM (BD Time)
20 June, 2013 Thursday
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Weibo microblog introduces users’ code contracts
China's biggest microblogging service has introduced a code of conduct explicitly restricting the type of messages that can be posted.
Weibo - which resembles Twitter - took the action after local authorities criticised "unfounded" rumours posted by some users.
Reports suggest a credit score system will also be introduced with points deducted for rule breaches.
Repeat offenders face having their accounts deleted.
The service's parent, Sina Corp, says it has more than 300 million registered users. Users are reported to start with 80 points - they gain more by taking part in promotional activities, but lose points if they break any of the rules.
It is reported that if a subscriber's points fell below 60 a "low credit" warning would appear on their microblog, leading to the possible cancellation of their account if it hit zero. If they "behaved" for two consecutive months their score is reported to return to 80.
"This is a sign of the authorities trying to restrain the internet in China, but a hardcore group of people will still find ways to get round the restraints," Dr Kerry Brown, head of the Asia Programme at the Chatham House think tank, told the BBC.
"There is a tradition of indirect criticism in which people make points using coded references. I very much doubt these rules will change anything."
The news was first reported in the western press by The Next Web which quoted from a translated version of the rules created by an anonymous group of volunteers.
The "community convention" says its members may not use the service to:
It adds that members must not use "oblique expressions or other methods" to circumvent the rules.
Users have sometimes abbreviated names or used code words to avoid detection in the past.
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