Weibo on the Chopping Block


On May 28, 2012, new management regulations took effect for Sina Weibo, one of China’s most popular social media sites, as part of an intensifying government crackdown on social media in the country. According to the regulations, users logging more than 5 posts of “sensitive information” would be prevented from posting for 48 hours and have the relevant content deleted. Further, those users posting “sensitive content” with “malicious intent” would be prevented from posting for more than 48 hours and face the possibility of having their account terminated. As of May 29, Sina had recruited close to 6,000 “community committee members” who would be tasked with monitoring posts and determining punishments. The English-language Global Times quoted Beijing lawyer Wang Zhengyu as saying the committee lacked legitimacy: “Only the courts, not microblogging service providers, have the right to judge the authenticity of the content and decide what online behavior infringes on others’ rights or are in violation of Chinese laws.” In the above cartoon, posted by artist Kuang Biao (邝飚) to Sina Weibo, a distressed Chinese internet user prepares to feed a “post” by hand into his computer as a sharp blade hovers at the top of the screen, ready to fall.

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