Reports from this week specify how the Great Firewall of China has come up with new face of the internet that is under continued censorship and surveillance. However, it is clear that things are going to the next level owing to a change coming to the Chinese social network, Weibo. Reports specify that that the network will start displaying the approximate locations of the users using IP addresses. Apparently, the network is introducing this feature in order to fight “bad behaviour” online. These displayed locations would appear on both profiles and posts.
The announcement of this update came in a post from Weibo’s main account, accumulating more than 200 million views. The responses on it already featured the location of the users, proving that the feature was already brought into action. Currently, users of the network do not have the choice to opt out of displaying their location while posting. In the post, Weibo states that this update is directed at reducing ‘bad behaviour’ like ‘impersonating parties involved-‘ in trending news topics. Along with it, issues such as ‘malicious disinformation,’ along with ‘traffic scraping.’ They specified that it was in order to make sure of the distribution of the ‘authenticity and transparency of the content.’
“Weibo has always been committed to maintaining a healthy and orderly atmosphere of discussion and protecting the rights and interests of users to quickly obtain real and effective information.”
For long, users in China have resorted to the use of VPNs, along with other privacy tools in order to gain access to overseas sites, simply to speak freely online. Despite Weibo claiming the changes are aimed at promoting a pleasant space online, speculations indicate that this is typical for any Chinese site. Chinese censors are known to monitor almost everything online, specifically if something goes viral.
Similarly, according to Panopticon, letting users know that the services are aware of where they are would lead to self censorship. This, in turn, would lead to lessening the strain on Chinese censors to cover a network that has millions of users.
On other other hand, recent lockdowns in Chinese cities like Shanghai and others have put immense pressure on the ability of the censors to adequately remove content. In all probability, this could induce firms to put in additional features that would automatically put a limit on the truthfulness of these users.