Chinese Twitter-like site Sina Weibo introduces controversial "user contract"

China flag CBS/AP/Sina Weibo

Sina Weibo
(CBS News) Sina Weibo will reportedly introduce "user contracts" for members of its social network that some allege promote censorship.

China shuts down Twitter-like accounts amid political scandal

Sina Weibo is a Chinese Twitter-like service lets its users broadcast text and photos in real-time. The service has over 300 million users. Twitter has been blocked from China since 2009.

According to The Next Web, Sina Weibo will allegedly launch a trial run of a new user contract on May 28. The contract is mostly standard, with the exception of a few details that raised eyebrows.

The Next Web posted a translated version of the user contract and pointed out article 13, which addresses what users may and may not publish on Sina Weibo.

Article 13) Users have the right to publish information, but may not publish any information that:

1. Opposes the basic principles established by the constitution
2. Harms the unity, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of the nation
3. Reveals national secrets, endangers national security, or threatens the the [sic] honor or interests of the nation
4. Incites ethnic hatred or ethnic discrimination, undermines ethnic unity, or harms ethnic traditions and customs
5. Promotes evil teachings and superstitions
6. Spreads rumors, disrupts social order, and destroys societal stability
7. Promotes illicit activity, gambling, violence, or calls for the committing of crimes
8. Calls for disruption of social order through illegal gatherings, formation of organizations, protests, demonstrations, mass gatherings and assemblies
9. Has other content which is forbidden by laws, administrative regulations and national regulations.

Sina Weibo made headlines in April, when the micro-blogging service deleted several user accounts for spreading "malicious political rumors."

Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Sina Weibo sent this message to users: "Recently, criminal elements have used Sina Weibo to create and spread malicious political rumors online for no reason, producing a terrible effect on society."

The rumor everyone was talking about was over Chinese politician Bo Xilai, who was suspended from China's Politburo on April 10 - a powerful 25-member group that runs the country.

Bo's wife Gu Kailai was recently arrested for the murder of Nick Heywood - a British man who was found dead in a hotel room last November.

Chinese journalists who were broadcasting information and opinions over the scandal over Sina Weibo were kicked off the site and in some cases arrested.

China has long censored websites with anti-government content, including social media sites. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are among some of the social media sites that are currently blocked. Google was famously banned in mainland China in March 2010 because the search engine began redirecting its site to Google Hong Kong, which was not censored, as a work-around China's "Great Firewall."

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