Weibo Users’ Response to Xi’an’s New Regulation
Updated: May 27, 2019
Xi’an, the capital city of Shaanxi province and the old capital of China, is requiring individual Weibo users with over 30,000 followers to register with the city’s government. It has the same requirements for company accounts with over 50,000 followers.
The announcement, which was made last Friday, states that this new regulation is designed to “improve the management of websites and new media based in Xi’an” and “safeguard the orderly dissemination of online information.” Those who do not comply risk having their accounts shut down, as well as being required to answer questions to the authorities about their online presence. This news comes after a similar, even stricter regulation in Wuning County, that requires users with over 1,000 followers to register with the local government.
While authorities claim that these sorts of regulations are an effort to encourage more positive content on social media, Weibo users seem to disagree. In Xi’an’s official announcement on Weibo, users expressed consistent disapproval as they flooded the post’s comment section with critical commentary. One user questioned the Xi’an government’s restrictions by referencing the overarching law of China, while others expressed general disappointment:
Xi’an’s new regulation is not out of character, however, it is particularly surprising that Xi’an’s official page did not restrict commenting on this post, a mechanism that any account can use on original posts. If they are trying to “encourage more positive content”, then one would think that they wouldn’t allow people to express negative opinions. This also begs a more important question: will Xi’an’s stance on social media soon spread to the rest of China?
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