Weibo starts displaying users’ IP locations to discourage ‘bad behavior’

Weibo IP location
  • Chinese social media site Weibo has implemented new account settings that displays users’ IP locations on their account pages and every comment they post.
  • Weibo said users in China will have their current province or municipality location displayed, while overseas users will only have their country indicated.
  • According to the platform, the feature is designed to discourage people from “impersonating parties involved in hot topic issues, malicious disinformation and traffic scraping, and to ensure the authenticity and transparency of the content disseminated."
  • The setting, which can not be disabled, has earned mixed reactions from users, with some expressing concerns about losing online anonymity and others supporting it for its potential to curb online misinformation.

Chinese social media platform Weibo has begun publishing users’ IP locations on their account pages to discourage “bad behavior.”

The platform, which is home to over 570 million monthly active users, announced the change via a post on Thursday, the same day it took effect.

According to the notice, users are unable to turn off the feature, which displays all users’ IP address locations on their account pages and every comment they post. 

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Users in China will have their current province or municipality location displayed, while overseas users will only have their countries indicated.

Weibo said the new settings are designed to discourage people from “bad behavior such as impersonating parties involved in hot topic issues, malicious disinformation and traffic scraping, and to ensure the authenticity and transparency of the content disseminated.”

The company further noted that it “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.”

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The notice has been viewed over 200 million times and generated widespread discussion on the platform. So far, the feedback has been mixed, with some users expressing concerns about losing online anonymity and others supporting the move for its potential to curb online misinformation. 

“Every IP address seems to be whispering in your ear: ‘You be careful,'” one user wrote.

“Especially at a time when the COVID situation is still serious, IPs being swiftly revealed can effectively reduce the appearance of disgusting content from rumor-makers and rumor-spreaders,” another user said.

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Weibo had earlier announced that it would test the settings on some users as a response to most pro-Ukraine posts it deemed as misinformation circulating on the platform regarding the Ukraine-Russia war.

This year, China’s online regulator Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has ramped up its internet “purification” efforts, imposing restrictions on local social media sites.

Under current laws, platforms may face financial sanctions or even temporary suspensions of service if they fail to censor their content.

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Last year, the regulating agency imposed several fines on Weibo, including one for publication of illegal information.

 

Featured Image via Weibo

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