Feeds

Chinese micro-blogs a hit with police

But Sina users urged to snitch on each other...

Remote control for virtualized desktops

China’s micro-blogging platforms are a hit with the country’s web-savvy police forces, despite being forced to implement yet more prohibitive regulations this week.

Provincial and local public security bureaus across the land are so keen on the Twitter-like weibos that the People’s Daily Online Public Opinion Monitoring Center released a table of the top ten most influential police accounts.

The University of Hong Kong-based China Media Project blog reproduced a version of the rankings, which were drawn up according to criteria including number of followers, their activity levels, and number of original posts.

For the record, top dog was @GuangzhouPublicSecurity, followed by @JinanPublicSecurity, and third came Harbin police’s optimistically-titled account, @PeacfulHarbin.

The accounts are not just a way for the forces to appear more accessible and transparent but also help them catch crooks.

Guangzhou police, for example, ran an online campaign to catch 54 of the region’s most wanted suspects, drawing in nearly 100,000 users, according to the blog.

Of course, there is a more obvious reason for the police to be active on weibos - namely to help them monitor, censor and shape public opinion. For this reason alone, the companies behind such platforms can probably rest assured they are not in any danger of being shut down.

Weibo operators have, however, been under significant pressure from the authorities over the past few months to step up self-censorship efforts.

The latest chapter came on Monday when the country’s hugely popular micro-blogging site Sina Weibo introduced new “user contracts”.

The code of conduct forbids users to do things like spread harmful rumours, call for mass gatherings or personally insult others.

Although the system did not introduce anything that wasn’t already banned by the authorities, it could be viewed – along with the recently introduced real name registration rules - as another way for the government to control what gets said online and by whom.

An accompanying points system was rolled out to ensure those breaking the rules will be deducted credits and could eventually have their account cancelled.

Interestingly, 'Weibo Credit' encourages users to report each other for breaking the rules, neatly subverting the very idea of social media.

Although the new rules have ostensibly been implemented by Sina, operator of one Weibo, on its own initiative, it’s likely the government had something to do with it , especially given the firm was singled out for unspecified punishment in the fall-out from the Bo Xilai scandal. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
NATO declares WAR on Google Glass, mounts attack alongside MPAA
Yes, the National Association of Theater Owners is quite upset
Inside the EYE of the TORnado: From Navy spooks to Silk Road
It's hard enough to peel the onion, are you hard enough to eat the core?
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.