Sina Weibo Requires ID Verification
China's popular micro-blogging platform, Sina Weibo, expects that 60 percent of its users will verify their identities by a government-mandated deadline of March 16.
According to the BBC, the government is requiring users to provide the service with their full name and phone number. Only those with verified accounts will be allowed to continue to use the service.
Similar to Twitter, which is blocked in China, Weibo allows users to post short messages and collect followers. Sina Weibo claims it has 300 million users.
The Chinese government has required users of the service to provide their personal information in order to stop the "spread of harmful" false rumors. Among those rumors are a story that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had been assassinated while staying in the country's embassy in Beijing, and another claiming that people had collected syringes infected with HIV in the city to use in attacks.
In 2011, the number of Internet users in China soared to 513 million, half of which used micro-blogging services such as Weibo, a January report from the government-run China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) found. Last year, the CNNIC said that the number of microbloggers quadrupled, and the number of Internets users in the country increased by 12 percent in December alone, compared to the same time frame in 2010.
The Internet in China is, of course, closely monitored, and the government is particularly sensitive about the spread of purported "rumors" on microblogs. Last August, these platforms caught the scrutiny of the so-called "Great Firewall of China" because of discussions about the health of former Chinese president Jiang Zemin as well as talk about the government's mishandling of a high-speed train crash, prompting Beijing to tighten its grip around Weibo.
Commmunist Party secretary Liu Qi paid a personal visit to Sina's offices and told the company that it must "resolutely put an end to fake and misleading information" and better manage users on its micro-blogging platform.
The identity verification tactic is the government's latest step in controlling microblogs, and as they grow, they will likely face more government regulations.
Sina Weibo Top User Rankings
As China’s strict new real-name policy on microblogging sites such as Sina Weibo came into effect, the platform’s most-followed user Yao Chen has become the first to reach 18 million followers.
The government policy was brought into effect on March 16 in an attempt to stop users from spreading “harmful” or false rumours while using a pseudonym but some users are concerned that enforcement will lead to further government censorship on social networking sites.
Chinese actress Yao Chen (picture) is the first Sina Weibo user to hit a total of just over 18 million followers. Her fan count is just shy of Twitter’s second most popular user Justin Bieber whose list of fans has grown to 18.57 million.
Lady Gaga, Twitter’s top microblogger, has raced past 21 million followers after hitting a record 20 million fans just weeks before. In a blog post dated February 8, 2012, Lady Gaga announced that she would launch littlemonsters.com, her own social network.
This week Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez both reached out to their fans on Twitter to thank them for their support as they toured the world.
“Tonight we ended a 13 month tour. It was a beautiful trip around the world and I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything. Thanks guys.” Gomez posted a video on YouTube and tweeted: “It took me a while to get it up but, I wanted to send out a Thank You video to all cities/countries I visited.”
Third party estimates put Twitter at more than 500 million registered users. Sina reported that it had more than 300 million registered users on Sina Weibo in February 2012.
Most popular people on Twitter:
- Lady Gaga (21,042,894 followers)
- Justin Bieber (18,574,890)
- Katy Perry (16,235,613)
- Rihanna (15,136,322)
- Shakira (14,921,984)
- Britney Spears (14,261,168)
- Kim Kardashian (14,128,548)
- Barack Obama (13,084,879)
- Taylor Swift (11,756,340)
- Selena Gomez (10,969,110)
Most popular people on Sina’s microblog (Weibo):
- Yao Chen (18,006,766 followers)
- Dee Hsu (17,412,257)
- Yang Mi (15,231,999)
- Xie Na (15,101,705)
- Kevin Tsai (14,720,573)
- Zhao Wei (14,480,905)
- Leehom Wang (14,390,159)
- He Jiong (14,101,954)
- Li Bingbing (13,061,076)
- Chen Kun (12,514,872). — AFP-Relaxnews