BEIJING, Aug. 12 -- Those who are concerned over China's regulation on instant messaging services, announced Thursday, should go through the ten-clause document again.
The rules did not come out of nowhere. They were rolled out in line with the nation's established laws and regulations in light of new mobile phone technologies.
The rules said only media organizations and news websites can use public accounts to release and retweet political reports. Some public accounts of non-media organizations will be allowed to retweet political reports after scrutiny.
These points comply with the country's provisions on the administration of Internet news information services, which were announced in 2005. According to the 2005 rules, political reports include military reports and foreign affairs reports.
The regulation mainly targets China's 5.8 million public accounts on apps like WeChat. In order to help fight online rumors, the country aims to standardize the release of news information through better managing of those accounts, which can send mass messages to followers.
Similar regulations were passed for microblogging service Sina Weibo in 2012.
But handling rumors and harmful information on instant messaging services poses a graver challenge for the government than microblogging services.
Compared with the latter, which have more than 500 million registered users, instant messaging services have more than 800 million users -- more than twice the population of the United States and about 12 times that of Britain.
If instant messaging services are used by rumormongers and terrorists to spread panic or terror video and audio, the public's rights, interests and security will be in great danger.
Under the regulation, users of instant messaging services are required to use their real names when registering. This is intended to hold users responsible for the content they send out and is expected to help prevent the spreading of rumors and defamation.
According to a judicial interpretation issued by the supreme court and procuratorate in September, defamation charges can be levelled against those whose posts are deemed to be rumors and are viewed by more than 5,000 users or retweeted more than 500 times. Defamation charges can lead to up to three years in prison or loss of political rights.
For individual users, rumors circulated on instant messaging services are also more influential than those on microblogging services, as messaging services link a user's real-life acquaintances, including relatives, friends and colleagues.
Rumormongers might take advantage of this aspect of instant messaging services to realize their goals of disrupting social order.
By asking public accounts to follow rules and users to use their real names, the government is actually striving to make the services more reliable and sustainable.