Real Name Registration Requirement Coming For Weibo And Other Chinese Social Media?
- Posted by bbishop
- on August 26th, 2011
There is a rumor circulating that the authorities will soon require real name registration for users of Weibos (microblogs) and other social media in China. Such a regulation would be consistent with the ongoing campaign to control rumors on the Internet.
As part of the online gaming anti-fatigue system, China built a system to verify users’ real names at the time of registration. The Ministry of Public Security provides an API for companies to query the national ID database, but it is expensive; last I heard it costs 4-5 RMB per query. Baidu ($BIDU) required real names for its now shuttered microblogging service Shouba. 5 million or so people signed up, costing Baidu millions of RMB.
Users don’t like forced real name registration, and in a competitive market where Sina ($SINA) and Tencent Weibo do not require real names Baidu did not stand a chance.
The real name registration rumors have a couple of variants. One is that all users will have to have their names verified. That would likely result in a large drop of registered users and activity at Sina and Tencent and Facebook-clones like RenRen ($RENN), if the requirements do extend beyond microblogs. The second version is that unverified users will be allowed to use the social media services but will be restricted in their ability to send content. Either measure would likely mitigate the very real problem of online rumor-mongering.
Sina already has a voluntary real name system. Sina places a “V” next to the names of users it knows are real (celebrities, friends of employees for example) and has recently rolled out an even more stringent voluntary identification service that gives you a red star next to your name (see Techrice: DaRen – Sina Weibo Issues Red Stars to ‘Expert’ Users). Most Weibo users want to be verified; you have more credibility and Sina may promote your account.
Measures like the new rumor notifications (see Digicha: Sina Weibo Turns 2, Rolls Out New Anti-Rumor Measures) and a real name requirement may actually be good news for Sina and the other Weibo providers. Yes these are new regulations that users may not like, but they show that the government is not looking to shut these services down but rather implement enough control to allow them to stay online.
Liu Qi, Beijing’s Party Secretary and member of the Politburo, made a high profile, widely reported visit to Sina last weekend. The conclusion of some Western analysts is that his visit was a warning to Sina and a bad omen for the future of Weibo. In fact, Liu’s visit is probably a positive sign for Sina. It is rare for a Politburo member to visit a privately owned company, and the timing of Liu’s visit, during increasing calls for cleaning up the Internet and controlling rumor mongering, looks to be a signal that while Sina may be forced to add new controls, it does in fact enjoy high level support and is not likely to face draconian new regulations or closure. Senior Chinese leaders do not often publicly visit private enterprises, and when they do it is highly unlikely that they intend to burn the firm soon after high profile media coverage of such a visit.
Microblogs are embedded in Chinese society and it is very difficult now for the government to shut them down (see Digicha: Three Reasons The Government Is Unlikely To Shutdown Sina Weibo). Yes the government is reining them in, but the rumored measures are not enough to kill the vitality of microblogging in China, and in fact may be encouraging signs that government recognizes Weibos are here to stay.
Then again, this all may just be another crazy online rumor…
[UPDATE: Moves to tighten control over the Internet, and especially social media sites like microblogs, should come as no surprise to readers of Digicha. See The Rise of China's Cybercrats from March 2011. END UPDATE]
The information in this blog post represents my own opinions and does not contain a recommendation for any particular security or investment. I or my affiliates may hold positions or other interests in securities mentioned in the Blog, please see my Disclaimer page for my full disclaimer.blog comments powered by Disqus
Bill Bishop is an American living in Beijing. He is bilingual and has experience working in both US and China. In 1997 he co-founded CBS MarketWatch and stayed until the sale in 2004 to Dow Jones. He was never a journalist, and instead worked in several business roles over the years, the last as head of the MarketWatch consumer Internet business. More »
- Sinocism China Newsletter For 08.30.12
- The Sinocism China Newsletter
- Today’s China Readings July 18, 2012
- Sina Sell-Side Still Searching For Muppets
- China Daily Readings
- Sina Admits It Has Not Complied With Weibo Real Name Registration Rules
- Groupon’s China Firesale
- Apologies For The Hiatus
- Tweeting The Sina Q4 2011 Earnings Call
- Quick Thoughts Ahead Of Sina Earnings
- August 2012
- July 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- Inside Sina Weibo
- Reuters: China VIE Company Structure Under Threat
- Authorities Removing Apple iPads From Chinese Store Shelves? (Updated)
- China's Internet: The Invisible Birdcage
- Is Tencent The Wrong Partner For Groupon In China?
- If Sina Is Cooking Its Books I'll Eat This Blog
- Jack Ma Talks To China Entrepreneur Magazine About The Alipay Case (UPDATED)
- New Report On China's Online Game Industry-$3.6B in 2009 Revenue, $9.2B By 2014
- Do You Know Where Your China Stock CFO Lives?
- China's MIIT Declares Most VoIP Services, Including Skype, Illegal
TagsAdvertising Alibaba Apple Baidu Beijing cctv Censorship china China Mobile Corruption Cyberwar DangDang eCommerce Facebook Fraud Gaming GFW Google Group Buying groupon Internet Investing IPO Media Mobile Music Netease PerfectWorld Piracy Policy Readings Regulations Search Shanda Sina SNS Social Games Tencent Twitter US-China Virtual Items Web Video Weibo WoW WVAS
- Group Buying
- Internet Security
- Listed Firms
- Online Games
- Online Memes
- Online Payments
- Online Trends
- Perfect World
- Public Relations
- Renewable Energy
- Social Gaming
- Traditional Chinese Medicine TCM
- Web Advertising
- Web Video
- World of Warcraft
StockTwits - All Updates