Hot potato: Imagine if Twitter announced that it would publish users’ IP addresses and location data to combat inappropriate behavior on the platform. This will no doubt cause a stir, but this is exactly what the Chinese equivalent of Sina Weibo is doing.

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According to RegisterSina Weibo’s post titled “IP Territorial Function Upgrade Announcement” states that actions are being taken to protect user rights and improve the user experience of the service.

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“In order to reduce unwanted behavior such as impersonation, malicious rumors…, and ensure the authenticity and transparency of the content distributed, the site launched the IP Territory feature in March of this year,” the translation reads. statement.

This feature sees the recorded IP addresses and the province or municipality they come from included in users’ posts. It is not possible to cancel the function.

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Twitter has long had a problem with toxic users and trolls, making the platform as a whole a nasty place for many. However, few would believe that displaying IP addresses and location data is a good idea given the privacy implications.

The move seems particularly insidious in China, where state control over the internet is notoriously strict and dissidents are severely punished. BUT report for 2019 identified citizens using a VPN to access the country’s blocked Twitter and posting messages critical of the government were detained and interrogated.

VPNs could be used in this case, but as The Reg points out, they’re illegal in China, meaning their use comes at its own risk.

Not everyone is against moving. “I feel that this initiative not only standardizes civilized speech, but is also designed to prevent foreign forces from provoking various clashes on the Chinese network. After all, in these special times, China really is a thorn in the eyes of too many countries. In fact, a lot of spies have been arrested lately, and cyber spies are more invincible…,” wrote one user.

Recently, China has been tightening control over its internet. Douyin, known to the rest of the world as TikTok, last week asked users to report any criticism of the government and its policies. In addition, China’s $30 billion live streaming industry looks set to be hit by regulations which include limiting the amount of money streamers can receive from fans and tightening restrictions on the type of content they can show.