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New Rules for Sina Weibo Users in China Take Effect May 28
Recent developments in China and India put the issue of Internet censorship back in the news. In China, the country's largest microblogging service announced new policies to restrict what its users can put online. Sina Weibo is a Twitter-like service that lets users publish short messages and pictures. There are about three hundred million Sina Weibo users. The service has been under increasing pressure from the Chinese government to censor more of its content.
In early May, Sina Weibo announced new policies aimed at preventing what it called offensive or questionable material from being posted online. The company said that includes information that is "untrue" or "threatens the honor of the nation." It also includes information that "promotes evil teachings" or "destroys societal stability."
Chad Catacchio is an American-based blogger who follows technology news from China. He says the new policies are not necessarily a surprise. He says these kinds of rules have existed for a while on the Internet in China. "Take it for what it is," he says, and adds that at least Sina Weibo is putting the policies in writing publicly. What remains to be seen, he says, is "what that means and if that's good for the users." Sina Weibo said its new policies would take effect May twenty-eighth. In April, the company deleted several user accounts after stories of a possible government overthrow spread across its service. Sina Weibo was among several microblogging services that the Chinese government punished for failing to block the rumors.
Also, in March, the government announced new rules requiring microblog users to register their accounts using their real names. China has more than five hundred million Internet users. To control Internet use, the country has one of the largest and most developed censorship systems in the world. Websites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are blocked in China.In India, the Delhi High Court again delayed censorship hearings against Facebook and Google. The move in early May was the second time the hearings had been delayed this year. Facebook and Google are among a group of companies accused of not censoring offensive content on their websites. The Delhi High Court set a new hearing date for August seventh.
For VOA Special English, I'm Alex Villarreal.You can learn English and find more stories about Internet censorship issues at voaspecialenglish.com. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 14May2012)