Time for Weibo Community Service?

China Copyright and Media explains new Sina Weibo regulations establishing volunteer “community committees” to assist with content management and dispute resolution:

Earlier this month, Sina published three documents aimed at establishing a new management structure for its Weibo services, which took effect a few days ago.

[…] These three documents establish a structure with two main components: content requirements for Weibo posts and “community committee” structures to judge on cases violating these requirements. They distinguish between three sorts of prohibited content: harmful information, false information and user-dispute type content. The first category is dealt with by Sina itself, and two sorts of community committees corresponding to the latter two categories.

The community committees will be selected from volunteers among active Weibo users. They allow for a degree of self-governance, “as long as no sensitive information is involved”. However, the practicality of the new policy is yet to be tested, and it remains to be seen how overlap between “false information” and “harmful information”—a broad category including politically sensitive material as well as pornography and spam—will be dealt with.

… In particular, the expert committee will have their work cut out with dealing with false information, and this is where there may be an interesting overlap with alleged harmful information. What if information is harmful, but true as well? At the same time, there are some concerns: perhaps this may result in piecemeal and ad hoc decision-making, rather than the development of a consistent code of online behaviour.

Read more about content management on Sina Weibo on China Digital Times.