A testimony to the power of social media: the Chinese government is forcing all users of popular micro-blogs, known as weibos, to register under their real names by next month. The country is preparing for a leadership transition later this year and, with more than half a billion Chinese now online, authorities are concerned about the power and influence of the internet to fuel unrest. Many fear that forcing registration will deter bloggers from public criticism of the authorities.
Cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have already started trials of real-name blog registration. Critics, particularly academics, have come out against the move, arguing that the new registration rules are too strict and stifle freedom of expression.
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