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China cracks down on Twitter-like website, asks users to sign contract

People who use the microblog website Sina Weibo will now have to sign a contract restricting the types of messages they post.

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A woman works online in her cubicle at an office in Beijing. China's homegrown social media sites like Sina Weibo are booming thanks to their better knowledge of the world's largest Internet market, and the censorship stifling foreign rivals like Facebook, Twitter, and Google-owned YouTube. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

China's biggest microblogging website has introduced a code of conduct that restricts the types of messages users can post, BBC News reported. The website, called Sina Weibo, is similar to Twitter. 

"This is a sign of the authorities trying to restrain the internet in China," Dr. Kerry Brown told the BBC.

Users are now asked to sign a contract that lays out a series of rules of how to use the site. Bloggers can no longer promote "illicit activity" or make "calls for disruption of social order through illegal gathering, formation of organizations, protests, demonstrations, mass gatherings and assemblies." Among the many other things bloggers can no longer post include rumors, messages that disrupt social order or messages that destroy "societal stability," according to The Next Web

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Under the user contracts, first rolled out today, Weibo's 300 million users will now begin with 80 points, CNN reported. Points will be deducted for breaking the contract. Accounts will be shut down once the point total reaches zero. 

Meanwhile, users can gain points if they agree to take part in promotional activities.

China's microblogging websites such as Weibo are seen as an important way to spread information  and have caused some embarrassment for the Chinese government. On Sunday police arrested a former Communist Party official named Li Xingong after outrage about the official allegedly raping young girls spread on microblogs, according to the BBC

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/china/120528/china-cracks-down-twitter-website-sina-weibo