Chinese have to give real name to chat apps – update

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The Chinese government immediately requires users of chat programs such as WeChat to register their real name. They can still use nicknames in communication with others, but anonymous registration is no longer possible.

According to the Chinese publication China Daily, the measure is intended to “clean up” the internet and to combat rumors. The measures affect users of popular chat apps such as WeChat, QQ and Laiwang.

Not only do users have to register their real name since Thursday, but there are also stricter restrictions on public profiles. Those profiles can be used by companies and organizations to communicate with customers and supporters.

Anyone wishing to use a public profile must promise to abide by the law and respect China’s interests. They must also promise not to post immoral content. In addition, it is prohibited to broadcast ‘political news’ with a public profile, except for news services, some websites and a number of other organizations with ‘journalistic licenses’.

Earlier, the Chinese government already tackled social media such as Twitter alternative Weibo. People were arrested for spreading rumors, which would have caused the number of posts on Weibo to drop significantly. At the end of 2012, China already required users to register their real name with their ISP.

Update, 15:54: Chinese authorities have since arrested a man for “spreading panic” on WeChat, Reuters news agency reported. The man had sent messages that three men carrying explosives had been shot dead. According to the police, that was not true.

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