China tightens grip on social media with new rules
May 28, 2012 -- Updated 0934 GMT (1734 HKT)
A woman views the Chinese social media website Weibo at a cafe in Beijing in April.
- Users of China's popular Sina Weibo service have to abide by new rules aimed at preventing online rumors
- Points system introduced to manage user misconduct and punish abusers
- Steps come as Beijing puts pressure on social networks to police what their users are saying
Hong Kong (CNN) -- Users of Sina Weibo, China's popular Twitter-like micro-blogging service, now have to abide by new rules aimed at preventing online rumors and other controversial posts.
The "user contracts" that took effect on Monday come as authorities put increased pressure on China's social networks to police what their users are saying.
Sina has also rolled out a points system as a way to manage users who post content that contravenes the new rules, according to documents posted on Sina Weibo's website.
Under the system, each Weibo account will begin with a score of 80 and points will be deducted for any perceived misconduct. Accounts that drop to zero will be canceled.
Weibo and rival platforms like Tencent's QQ have become hugely popular in China, with many Chinese regarding them as an important source of news and other information. Weibo is estimated to have 300 million users.
China cracks down on 'coup rumors'
Probing China's political drama
Chinese scandal becomes movement?
Chinese using Web for political satire
The contract seeks to prevent posts that "spread rumors, disrupt social order, or destroy social stability."
Other banned content includes revealing national secrets, threatening the honor of the nation, or promoting illicit behavior such as gambling.
'China's Twitter' introduces contracts to curb rumors
The new rules also seek to stop the use of code words or other expressions often employed by Chinese web users to refer to controversial people or events. For example, the disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai was often referred to as BXL.
Doug Young, a Chinese media expert from Fudan University in Shanghai, said the steps are intended to ease Beijing's concerns about the spreading of false rumors.
"I think Sina are trying to be proactive and clean up the site and show the government they are taking steps to stop people from spreading false information or other posts that create trouble," he said.
In April, China's Internet regulator temporarily suspended the comments sections of Weibo and Tencent's QQ as a punishment for allowing rumors to spread.
Authorities also closed 16 websites and detained six people for allegedly spreading rumors of "military vehicles entering Beijing" shortly after the arrest of Bo when China's Internet was rife with talk of an alleged coup.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0857 GMT (1657 HKT)
Over 200 Chinese villagers in Sichuan province have signed a petition to banish a HIV-positive eight-year-old boy, state media reported.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
A Chinese couple allegedly threw hot water on a flight attendant and threatened to blow up the plane, forcing the Nanjing-bound plane to turn back to Bangkok.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 0503 GMT (1303 HKT)
China's 1.3 billion citizens may soon find it much harder to belt out their national anthem at will.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 0021 GMT (0821 HKT)
Like Beijing today, Los Angeles in the last century went through its own smog crisis. The city's mayor says LA's experience delivers valuable lessons.
December 6, 2014 -- Updated 0542 GMT (1342 HKT)
At the height of his power, Zhou Yongkang controlled China's police, spy agencies and courts. Now, he's under arrest.
December 5, 2014 -- Updated 0826 GMT (1626 HKT)
China says it will end organ transplants from executed prisoners but tradition means that donors are unlikely to make up the shortfall.
December 5, 2014 -- Updated 0648 GMT (1448 HKT)
China's skylines could look a lot more uniform in the years to come, if a statement by a top Beijing official is to believed.
December 3, 2014 -- Updated 0855 GMT (1655 HKT)
Despite an anti-corruption drive, China's position on an international corruption index has deteriorated in the past 12 months.
November 26, 2014 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
A daring cross-border raid by one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's associates has -- so far -- yet to sour Sino-Russian relations.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0051 GMT (0851 HKT)
A 24-hour Taipei bookstore is a hangout for hipsters as well as bookworms.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 0153 GMT (0953 HKT)
China is building an island in the South China Sea that could accommodate an airstrip, according to IHS Jane's Defence Weekly.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1057 GMT (1857 HKT)
North Korean refugees face a daunting journey to reach asylum in South Korea, with gangs of smugglers the only option.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 2319 GMT (0719 HKT)
China and "probably one or two other" countries have the capacity to shut down the nation's power grid and other critical infrastructure.