China's Sina Weibo micro-blogging platform has unveiled new terms of service that require all of its members to sign "user contracts" that forbid them from posting anti-government content. Slated to go into effect on May 28th, the social network's contract prohibits, among other things, any content that "harms the unity, sovereignty, or territorial integrity" of China, as well as any post that "spreads rumors, disrupts social order, and destroys societal stability."
Currently in a trial phase, Sina Weibo's terms also call for the creation of a new "community committee" charged with overseeing and implementing these new rules. The committee will be comprised of regular Sina Weibo users, as well as "expert members," who will determine the factual accuracy of any questionable posts. Users who violate the conditions can be barred from commenting, and could have their accounts seized or terminated.
Recent research suggests that Sina Weibo is already subject to censorship, but this marks the first time that the site has been transparent about its practices. The Twitter-like service has also come under increasing pressure from government regulators in the past few months, with the Chinese regime recently forcing its users to submit their full names and phone numbers, as part of a wider crackdown on social media. Following its admitted failure to enforce these rules on time, it appears that Sina Weibo may be looking to reassure the Chinese government by taking a more explicit stance on web censorship.