China will enforce an even tighter control over online names starting on March 1st, and it's already begun nuking any account that doesn't conform to its standards. A handful of powerful internet companies in the country have deleted over 60,000 accounts they believe are in violation of China's new real-name/username policy. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said in a statement that these accounts have either harmful usernames (such as "Come Shoot Guns") or ones that mislead people into thinking that they're dealing with media or the government (like "Buy License Plates").
According to The Wall Street Journal, the group of companies that did this round of purging include e-commerce website Alibaba, tech giant Tencent, Chinese Google Baidu and social media platform Weibo. Baidu reportedly nuked 23,000 accounts for having vulgar usernames or using sexually explicit avatars, while Weibo removed 5,500 accounts for promoting terrorism and the views of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. Tencent also deleted instant messaging and social media accounts that deal with gambling, firearms and issue fake invoices and food safety info. It's not clear how many accounts Alibaba canceled, but the company formed a team to monitor the usernames on its websites and platforms.
The CAC didn't mention if some accounts were removed because they didn't have the users' real names. But if you recall, websites will also start requiring people to input their legal names and legit info when the new rules take effect on March 1st -- something that "chills" Chinese blogging pioneer Isaac Mao. "In the long run," he told the WSJ, "freedom of speech and freedom of innovation will be dramatically harmed."[Image credit: Getty Images]