A little over a year ago, in response to mounting concerns about the spread of harmful rumors on its platform, Sina Weibo implemented a “credit” system. Users who posted ‘harmful’ content — spam, rumors, politically sensitive information, etc. — would have their credit score reduced, have a “low credit” logo attached to their account, and ultimately get banned from the service altogether if their credit score went low enough.
One year into the program, Sina has released some numbers, and Weibo’s censors have definitely been busy. According to the Beijing News, the system has already resulted in more than 200,000 users getting credit deductions. Users whose scores reach zero will have their accounts blocked; their state identification number is also blocked so that they cannot register a new account using their own name.
In total, Sina says that over the year it dealt with more than 15 million reports of harmful information, including 12 million spam-related complaints, 1 million complaints about pornography, and 2 million complaints about user disputes and harmful information. If you’re wondering about political censorship, it would fall into that last category, and it’s probably intentional that Sina grouped those reports together with user disputes so that it’s not possible to be sure exactly how many users Sina’s censors deducted credit from for making politically “sensitive” comments. But politically sensitive posts often fall under a different system, and user accounts can be banned well before their credit reaches zero if they’re posting the wrong political messages.
It seems that so far Weibo’s credit system has mostly been used to combat spam on the service. It also seems Sina may be getting its rumor problem under control, as reports of “untruthful information” have dropped from an average of 4,000 a day last May to just 500 a day now. Of course, that drop could also in part the result of a drop in user activity as users migrate to other social platforms like WeChat.
(Of course, political censorship is alive and well on Sina Weibo too, even if the credit system apparently isn’t playing a huge role in it. WeiboScope (a useful tool for viewing manually-deleted Weibo posts) proves that every day Sina’s censors delete dozens, and often hundreds, of political posts. If you don’t speak Chinese, you can also look into this using Weibo Suite.)
(Beijing News via Techweb)