China’s Social Media Rules Reportedly Driving Away Some Users

China's Rules Start Driving Users Away From Country's Social Media Sites

Are China’s Latest RULES Having a WILD Side Effect?

( – If someone wants to know what uncontrolled government censorship or the erosion of free speech looks like, they can simply look to China. While the country has a reputation for cracking down on its citizens’ freedoms, it’s only increased such actions in recent months. Could anew set of Chinese internet rules now threaten to push social media users off the nation’s sites altogether?

China Announces New, Stricter Internet Regulations

On June 17, China’s Cyberspace Administration (CAC) published a draft of new rules governing social media comments. If enforced, the new guidelines would make companies that offer web-based interaction on nearly limitless subjects screen every user comment before publishing online.

Not only would this further limit how citizens could express themselves on the internet, but it would also force businesses to increase their workforce significantly to implement such a high level of censorship successfully.

Users’ Locations Are Already Public Knowledge

In April, Weibo, a major Twitter-like social media platform in China, began tagging each user with their ID number, thus attributing every comment and search to a specific citizen. This tracking allows the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to collect data on its citizen’s desires, thoughts, opinions, and more. Not surprisingly, some people have chosen to leave the app, saying it’s too intrusive.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Weibo lost 27 million users in April and May, although those numbers did rebound recently. One person who left was Iris Lin, a 25-year-old who spoke to WSJ about her experience. She detailed how the new rules of IDing every post and comment imposed in April made her feel like it was “our motherland that’s expelling us” from the internet.

Now, she uses Mastodon, a Twitter-esque platform launched in Germany in 2016, using multiple networks and servers to host users. However, groups hosted there only last a few months, typically.

Social Media Whack-a-Mole

As new social networks pop up within China, the government is working frantically to enforce its regulations. Within six months of its development, authorities blocked a network called Live Bar hosted on Mastodon. As founders regroup, they often try to migrate their followers to new sites before the CAC shuts them down again.

According to the WSJ, the CAC has fined 283 of almost 3,500 platforms it analyzed during the first half of this year. Some experts believe if the CAC increases and enforces the censorship requirements, these companies will pull out of the country, or the users will find other ways to interact.

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