Weibo, a Chinese microblogging platform, on Thursday announced plans to publish the IP addresses of all Weibo users both on their individual account pages and whenever they post comments, saying it was part of of an effort to prevent “bad behavior” online, Reuters reported.
Administrators of Weibo, sometimes referred to as “Chinese Twitter,” announced the new measure in Mandarin through the company’s own Weibo account on April 28. Reuters relayed translated excerpts from the press release on Thursday, writing: “For users in China, the platform will display the province or municipality they are posting from… For those using Weibo overseas, the country of the IP addresses users will be displayed.
Weibo, which has more than 570 million monthly active users, said its new IP address policy aims to “reduce bad behavior such as impersonation of parties involved in hot issues, misinformation malware and traffic scraping, and to ensure the authenticity and transparency of the content being broadcast.”
The new measure came into effect on April 28 as soon as the press release was published on Weibo. Weibo users will not be able to disable the feature. An IP address, or “internet protocol address,” serves as an identification number associated with a specific computer or computer network, according to Investopedia.
“An IP address allows information to be sent and received by the correct parties, which means it can also be used to pinpoint a user’s physical location in some cases,” the website noted.
China’s ruling Communist Party tightly regulates the country’s highly censored internet. Beijing has backed a wide-ranging campaign to “clean up” the Internet in China since 2015, with specific efforts targeting pornography and violent content.
Chinese internet censors shut down more than 13,000 websites and nearly 10 million “accounts” (likely on social media platforms) between early 2015 and late 2017, according to a December 2017 report by Reuters. The news agency cited an original article by Xinhua, China’s official news agency, as its source.
“Xinhua said that over the past five years, more than 10 million people who refused to register using their real names had their Internet or other telecommunications accounts suspended,” Reuters reported at the time.
“Chinese social media sites that fail to censor critical content face financial penalties as well as temporary service suspensions under applicable law,” the news agency noted on 28 april.
“Weibo, which has received several fines from China’s cyberspace regulator over the past year, frequently posts notices about its efforts to curb bad behavior online, including posting the names of punished accounts,” observed Reuters on Thursday.