2017-07-14 12:47:39

As if net users weren’t anxious enough about their social media follower count, Xi’an-based users of microblogging platform Weibo now have to register with the authorities if they have more than 30,000 fans.

The cyberspace administration of Xi’an, capital of northwestern Shaanxi province, announced on Friday that it will start requiring registrations from its most popular net personalities, as well as from companies in the city that have their own websites or whose follower count on Weibo exceeds 50,000.

Those who meet these requirements are asked to fill in a form on the government’s official website before Aug. 15, 2017. Among the information requested of these net users is their Weibo username, real name, contact number, and a photo of an identification card. They should also specify what kind of information they are sharing — such as original news, reposted news, product information, advertisements, online consulting, or videos.

If accounts fitting Xi’an’s registration criteria fail to sign up, they could potentially be shut down and their owners invited to “have a chat” with the authorities.

According to the announcement, the measure will “improve the management of websites and new media based in Xi’an” and “safeguard the orderly dissemination of online information.” Sixth Tone was unable to reach Xi’an’s cyberspace administration for comment.

Xi’an’s is not the first provincial government to open such a registry. In March, Wuning County in eastern China’s Jiangxi province published a similar announcement, though its criterion was stricter: Locals with more than 1,000 followers were asked to report themselves.

Qin Hui, an official at Wuning’s publicity department, told Sixth Tone that through the registry, they hope to encourage new media accounts to report more positive things.

Almost all local media from Wuning had registered their accounts on Weibo and WeChat, a messaging app with publishing features, Qin said. “Actually, we are friends of those influential accounts,” he said. “We just told them to come over and register.”

In June, numerous popular new media accounts on WeChat were closed down in an apparent move to enforce China’s new cybersecurity law.

Editor: Kevin Schoenmakers.

(Header image: A young woman uses the Weibo microblogging app in Zhengzhou, Henan province, Dec. 17, 2014. Luo Hao/VCG)