from the turning-online-into-offline dept
We've written a number of times of the various ways in which China tries to police its online world. These include punishing individuals, as well as imposing general rules that apply to everybody. Until now, it's been hard to tell to what extent the latter were just saber-rattling. Now we know, thanks to a new post on the Global Voices site:
According to the Beijing District Joint Platform Against Rumor, more than 103,673 Sina Weibo users have been penalized since August 2013 for violating the Weibo "community code of practice (CoP)" and the "Seven Self-Censorship Guidelines".
Numbers aside, what's interesting here is that the vast majority of users were punished for "personal attack comments" -- at least that's how things are presented:
An official release alleges that among the penalized Weibo users:
1,030 distributed untruthful information
75,264 published personal attack comments
14,357 harassed other users
3,773 published indecent and obscene materials
9,246 engaged in other forms of misconduct such as copying other users' content
The newly implemented community penalties range from temporary account suspension to permanent deletion of accounts.
As one netizen pointed out, "this is just an excuse to silence those who are critical of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)". Another user pointed out that the Party-sponsored online commentators are "immune to" the community rule even when they have launched personal attack comments against political liberals. It appears that the so-called "community" rule only applies to dissenting voices.
What's clever about this is that not only are people with inconvenient views silenced, but their protests are redefined to be the far less glamorous "personal attack comments". As Global Voices concludes, the net effect of these moves is that:
dissenters have been forbidden to speak out online and ordinary netizens are slowly being disciplined into behaving as passive consumers of online information through the imposition of "community code of practice."
In other words, the online world is slowly becoming like the offline one. Does that mean the Internet in China is on its way to being tamed? It seems unlikely, but only time will tell.