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28 August 2017

Chinese internet users will no longer be able to post online anonymously

Image: ROMAN PILIPEY/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

More bad news for folks in China.

Chinese internet users will no longer be able to post comments online anonymously as of Oct. 1.

The new ruling is the latest in the government’s move to tighten control over internet usage in the country.

According to the Cyberspace Administration of China, sites like social networks and discussion forums will have to verify the real identities of registered users before they can be allowed to post anything on their platforms. 

Comments on news stories will also have to be reviewed by the website before they can appear online, according to a report by the South China Morning Post.

For example, Zhihu, a Quora-like discussion site, has already started asking users to verify their identities with their mobile numbers (which are linked to people’s identity cards.)

Those who refuse this step aren’t able to post on the site.

A way to fight fake news, the government claims.

The CAC said in its notice that the new rule is simply to fight fake news. Online comments had given rise to the “dissemination of false rumours, foul language and illegal information,” it said.

And of course, the only comments we found on Weibo — China’s well-censored version of Twitter — were ones praising the move.

“This move should have been implemented ages ago,” said one internet user on Weibo.

“Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you’re [a] responsible [person]. Being responsible with your speech is true freedom!” another added.

But this new ruling is just one of many China has implemented over the past few months in an attempt to crackdown on free speech online.

It had earlier in July moved to ban live streaming and also blocked users from accessing virtual private networks (VPN).

Many people across China rely on VPN providers to access popular foreign websites that are blocked in the country, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter.

Now, it looks like people will have to watch what they say even more closely.

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