Real-name rule to adversely impact Chinese microblog site

CEO of Sina says regulations requiring microblog users to register account with real names can stem growth of its social networking site, according to report.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

The Chinese government's requirement for microblog users to register their accounts with their real names can negatively impact growth of Sina's social networking site, says company CEO.

In an AFP report Wednesday, Sina CEO Charles Chao was quoted as saying: "We believe that the requirement to convert existing users into verified users...will have a negative impact on user activity in the short term."

"We can not rule out any new tightening policy that may be introduced in future which may further impact our user growth and user activity in a negative way," he added. Chao was speaking during a conference call announcing Sina's financial quarter.

Microblogs, or weibo in Chinese, was reported as one of the fastest growing Internet activities in China, according to a report by China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) in January.

According to Chao, more than 40 percent of new registered users on Sina Weibo have failed the verification screening since the regulations were announced by Beijing last December, the AFP reported.

Despite the situation, the CEO said Sina will still "invest heavily" in microblogs this year after its total number of registered users tripled to 300 million in 2011, according to the report.

Last December, the Beijing government ordered weibo users in the city to register their accounts with their real names. In an update in February, the government said users must do so before Mar. 16 or their access to such social networks would be limited to browsing and they would not be allowed to post messages.

The regulations were then extended to other parts of the country.

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