Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Baidu, Sina, and Tencent Promise to Enforce Real Name Registration for Online Comments, Ask Users to Abide by the Socialist System

On November 6, 2014, China’s official news agency Xinhua published an article entitled “Chinese Websites Promise to Tighten Comments Management.” Some excerpts:
Twenty-nine major Chinese websites have promised to better manage the comments of their users as authorities call for a clean Internet. 
Representatives from the 29 web portals, including Tencent.com, Sohu.com, 163.com and the official website of Xinhua News Agency, signed the letter of commitment at a meeting organized by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC - 国家互联网信息办公室) on Thursday. 
These websites promised to ensure that "their users register, post and write comments with their real identity," according to the commitment letter. 
They also "promise to and sincerely ask all users to consciously abide by the 'seven bottom lines' -- law and rules, socialist systems, national interests, citizen's legitimate rights, social public order, morality and authenticity of information -- when posting."
In addition the websites promised to block 18 categories of comments, including those using:
  • language other than the language normally used to make comments;
  • words intended to deliberately circumvent censorship technology.
A full translation of the rules, entitled “Self-Discipline Commitment Letter on the Administration of Discussion and Commentary” (跟帖评论自律管理承诺书), is available here: http://blog.feichangdao.com/2014/11/translation-self-discipline-commitment.html.

The rules were announced by Ren Xianliang (贤良表), deputy director of the CAC, who told the assemble website operators:
To manage the Internet in accordance with the law it is not only necessary to focus on controlling the sources where news information is produced, it is also necessary to place a high degree of focus on steering and safeguarding the publication process flows.
According to a Caixin report published on November 3, Ren also warned them that they shouldn’t allow conversations to be “led around by the nose by a minority of Big Vs.” (不能被少数大V牵着鼻子走).

Xinhua also published this list of signatories, which included Baidu, the Global Times, and the People’s Daily. Here is the list in Chinese: 新华网、人民网、中国网、国际在线、中国日报网、央视网、中国青年网、中国经济网、中国台湾网、中国西藏网、中国新闻网、中青在线、中国广播网、光明网、正义网、环球网、法制网、中工网、中国军网、千龙网、新浪网、搜狐网、网易网、腾讯网、凤凰网、百度网、财新网、今日头条、澎湃新闻