From buying train tickets to using birth control, real-name registration appears to be the Chinese government’s New Year resolution. But what does this mean for Social Media?
It’s been almost a month since the Chinese government announced new regulations for popular Chinese social network Weibo, counting 300+ members, requiring microblog users to verify an account with their personal ID in order to activate it.
Still, there’s very little “official” information on how and when these rules are going to be enforced. What we do know, is that it won’t be cheap. Rumors say id5, the company in charge of verifying these accounts, will charge up to 2RMB per account. You do the maths. It’s true that “zombie” accounts won’t be charged, but we’re still looking at – at least – 50 million USD.
One thing’s for certain, these guidelines are going to bring great changes to the Chinese social media industry.
Gone are the days when shady marketing agencies could buy followers by the thousands for as little as 5 RMB. But, gone might also be the days of active and critical conversations on the social network.
There is a good chance that real-name registration will affect the public’s willingness to express their opinions and share potentially controversial news.
The question is: will this force users to leave Weibo in search of more “comfortable” social media platforms?
I guess we just need to wait and see.