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New Rules Bring a "Credit Rating" For Users of Chinese Social Network 89

Posted by timothy
from the orwell-was-at-least-fiction dept.
An anonymous reader links this article describing a newly installed set of rules affecting the already put-upon Internet users of China, specifically affecting users of social network Sina Weibo: "Sina Weibo users each will now receive 80 points to begin with, and this can be boosted to a full 100 points by those who provide their official government-issued identification numbers (like Social Security numbers in the U.S.) and link to a cellphone account. Spreading falsehoods will lead to deductions in points, among other penalties. Spreading an untruth to 100 other users will result in a deduction of two points. Spreading it to 100-1,000 other users will result in a deduction of five points, as well as a week's suspension of the account. Spreading it to more than 1,000 other users will result in a deduction of 10 points, as well as a 15-day suspension of the account." The article explains (in truth, not very helpfully) the extent to which users' freedom to talk freely will be curtailed; the long list of what not to do "includes using 'nonconforming' or false images to mislead," "exaggerating events," "presenting already [resolved] events as ongoing," "efforts to incite ethnic tensions and violence and hurt ethnic unity" and "efforts to spread cultist or superstitious thinking; spreading rumors to disrupt social harmony." (And of course the catch-all: "other activities stipulated by authorities.")
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New Rules Bring a "Credit Rating" For Users of Chinese Social Network

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  • Who decides? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Essequemodeia (1030028) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @03:55PM (#40195751)
    I suppose here if your facts are different than the "official government facts" you're guilty of spreading falsehoods.
  • by redmid17 (1217076) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @05:03PM (#40196051)
    And this was one of the countries petitioning the UN for control of the internet....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 02, 2012 @06:33PM (#40196549)

    The problem is, it's nobody's business if I don't believe the Holocaust happened, and I should have the right to express my opinions. And once you start banning people from questioning facts, you create a mechanism where the government can "force" people to believe what the government wants them to.

    Sure, right now this is used for good it seems - we just ban holocaust denialism. Now what happens if one day the government decided to ban creationism denialism? In theory it can happen, because when the government was given the right to ban holocaust denialism it was effectively given the right to ban some kinds of speech.

    Also, there is no way to study history accurately thanks to banning holocaust denialism. It's a given fact that both the allies and the axis used propaganda in the war. It's also known that the winner writes history. I'm not saying the holocaust did not happen, but some of it might be exaggerated or completely false. Who knows, maybe some German documents describing SOME atrocities might turn out to be forgeries written by the allies for propaganda purposes.... The problem is, historians can't study this now - their hands are tied by the law (or more accurately, their mouths are shut).

    Finally, banning holocaust denialism just gives credit to the denialists. See, if the government can really prove that the holocaust happened, then why are they silencing critics instead of showing us evidence? Maybe the denialists are on to something...
    Censoring them can also make them look like victims of oppression. I personally think they are victims of oppression - I disagree with their views on the Holocaust but I don't think they should be censored abusively by the government like is the case now. France of all countries should know better, considering it's history.
    And most of all, do you know exactly what denialists say? Do you know what arguments they use exactly? I don't and neither does anyone, since we don't let them speak. If a denialist came up to me and showed me his evidence, I probably would not know how to counter him. He might show me documents that "prove" the holocaust did not happen, and maybe these documents have been found to be forgeries 20 years ago, but since there's no public debate about this, I would not be able to tell him "oh yeah I know that document, it's a fake". The only counter I would have would be to put my fingers in my ears and repeat loudly "I'M NOT LISTENING YOU ARE A DENIALIST I DO NOT BELIEVE A WORD YOU SAY" and that is NOT debate and it does NOT make me more educated or wiser.

    As for "inciting racial hatred" and such - problem is, anything can be deemed to incite racial hatred. These laws are often too broad and can serve to censor/punish more than people who seriously want to organize mass lynchings of an ethnic minority. Just saying "due to the threat of terrorism, we should be extra-careful and screen Pakistani immigrants VERY carefully before letting them inside our country" can be construed as inciting racial hatred.
    Also, same as with outlawing denialism, this will only push racists underground where they can't be countered and criticized. If we had a public debate about racism, we could teach people why racism is wrong and more importantly, why the ideas of racists are wrong. Some people might say that we do educate people about racism and why it's wrong, but this is not true - most people know very little about the history of racism, or history in general. Some racists argue that the white man has always been more advanced than other races, which ignores the fact that Asia was scientifically superior to Europe at one point (until the 5th century, I believe). But a lot of people don't even know that at one time, white people were behind China. When a racist tells these people "the white man was always superior", these people will agree because they don't know history well enough. And there will be nobody to oppose that racist and say "hey, you're wrong there, here's an example..." because thanks to censorship laws, racists will make damn sure there are no anti-racists around when they spread their propaganda.

  • by oiron (697563) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @08:23PM (#40197391) Homepage

    Burning mod points to post:

    That looks like a "last ditch" effort against those advocating violent overthrow. But as far as I can see, it hasn't been used since 1958 [wikipedia.org]. A large portion of the act that set it up seems to have been ruled unconstitutional too.

    In any case, there's a MASSIVE difference between that and what China's attempting to do. One is a legal charge to be proven in court (under Common law, it's not disproven; the prosecution has to make the case that the accused violated the law, not the other way round), and the other is a measure of suppression. Further, if this is a reaction to the link you posted, the article only talks about news spreading about a rumored coup attempt, and not about anybody planning said alleged coup on microblogging sites.

    What's the Chinese government worried about? That people knowing that a coup attempt is possible will then realize that their leaders are not infallible and that they can change the government? That they'll demand a real say in how things are done, and real democracy? Are they upset that anyone could legitimately not tow the party line? Cowards!

    For comparison, here's how [hindustantimes.com] a democracy handles such allegations in the public. Keep in mind, this wasn't some random tweeters, but a real newspaper. The newspaper report was duly discredited, and life goes on.

    Besides, movements like Occupy Wall Street, or India Against Corruption [wikipedia.org] or even the Tea Party are welcomed in mature nations - they form a conduit for people to express themselves on how they wish to be governed. Consent of the governed should be the only path to legitimacy for any rulers. Anything else is a dictatorship.

    Sorry, I have no sympathy for China in this.

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"

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