Social media's reputation for usurping the political classes means that it terrifies
most some world leaders. That's probably the reasoning behind China's decision to pass a law mandating that users of internet-based communication services like IMs and social media must use their real name, or else. According to the state-run Xinhua News, users will now sign up to a service like WeChat, but won't gain access until they pass a background check. A spokesperson for the State Internet Information Office (SIIO) claims that "a few people" are using online chat services to spread dissent, slanders, rumors, terrorism, violence and pornography, which they claim is harming the overall health of China's leaders online population.
Meanwhile, those who already have an online presence will find their access limited until they submit to this same real-name vetting process. In addition, users will now be required to follow the "seven bottom lines" when using social media, a list of rules that include respecting the national interests, maintaining public order and upholding the socialist system. Should someone be found breaking these rules, the offending material will be deleted, their account will be closed and, presumably, they'll be dragged off for
interrogation a friendly chat. Naturally, the authorities believe that the new rules will protect citizens' rights to freedom of speech, which the SIIO defines as enjoying "the convenience of such services." They must be using a different dictionary.
[Image credit: Wikimedia Commons]