BEIJING (AFP) - Beijing city authorities on Friday issued new rules requiring microbloggers to register their real names before posting online, as the Chinese government tightens its grip on the Internet.
The city government now requires users of weibos -- the Chinese version of Twitter -- to give their real names to website administrators, its official news portal said.
The new rules will apply to weibo operators based in Beijing, which include Sina -- owner of China’s most popular microblogging service which has more than 200 million users -- as well as users living in the Chinese capital.
Weibo users reacted angrily to the new rules, saying this was an attempt to muzzle online criticism and debate.
“It is good to be responsible for one’s own comments but it shouldn’t be used as a tool to suppress people’s rights,” a blogger called Yuyue Yuanfei Ilu said in a posting.
Another web user called V Luoluo said: “The rules are always set against people. Do you dare to tell the truth after the real-name system is implemented? Do you dare to offend someone?”
Weibo operators “must establish and improve a system of content censorship”, according to the new rules, while users will have a legal duty to use their true identity to register.
With more than half a billion Chinese now online, authorities in Beijing are concerned about the power of the Internet to influence public opinion in a country that maintains tight controls on its traditional media outlets.