China has new set of restrictions on what citizens will be able to post on messaging applications, Chinese officials said Thursday, according to the Associated Press.
The new set of regulations is a national security measure, the officials said. Under the new policy, China is blocking two foreign chat apps, Kakaotalk and the wildly popular Line, saying that the messaging services were being used to ferry terrorist communications. And it is introducing a registration policy for all other messaging apps, including WeChat, which is very popular in China.
The regulations state that only media companies and state approved websites will be allowed to post political news and messages to their followers. Social media apps like WeChat have become forums for exchanging independent information, especially among journalists, among smaller groups — as opposed to a public forum like Twitter.
New users with public accounts will have to register under their real names, which will cut down on anonymous sharing. New users will also have to sign a contract promising to follow all Chinese laws and to behave in accordance with the socialist system and national interests — a vague and threatening set of standards if ever. The government will censor accounts that don’t comply. And foreign messaging services that don’t support the new registration policy will be blocked.
As the popularity of the Internet and social media have risen in the country, China has struggled to maintain its grasp on the exchange of information. In the past, the state has held tight restrictions on traditional media outlets, but those kinds of enforcements, it seems, are no longer sufficient.