China: Microblog Platforms Need "Greater Self Discipline"

Chinese authorities announced some bloggers would have their Weibo accounts suspended for spreading rumors.

Weibo is the Chinese equivalent of Twitter and has approximately 200 million users.

In a visit to Tencent, another Chinese microblog platform company, Zhou Yongkang, a Politburo member who oversees public security, said the company  needs “greater self-discipline” in order to ensure that the Internet promotes social harmony.

Via the New York Times:

The Chinese authorities have pursued two tracks with regard to the Internet, allowing freewheeling debate on topics unrelated to high-level politics and governance, but carefully monitoring — and sometimes banning — discussions on topics deemed too sensitive. Censors frequently notify users that a specific posting “was deleted according to relative laws and regulations.”

But official concern appears to have risen after two recent episodes demonstrated the potential power of the Chinese Web to mobilize social protest.

In the first, tens of million of online bloggers assailed government railway officials after a June 23 train crash near Wenzhou that killed 40 people, accusing the officials of incompetence, corruption and a cover-up. In mid-August, residents of Dalian in northeast China flooded microblogs with photographs of their protest against a local chemical factory, overwhelming censors’ attempts to delete the posts.

Since then, a welter of commentaries and articles in Communist Party newspapers have debated the need to rein in comments on the microblogs. The Chinese government abruptly blocked Twitter and Facebook in 2009. The services remain blocked today. But many analysts say that the government will not completely close the hugely popular microblogs for fear of a public backlash.

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