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China's Sina Weibo intros code of conduct: No 'evil teachings'

Users of the microblogging service must not harm China's unity, speak unkindly of the country's constitution, promote rumors, or spread superstitions.

China's Twitter-like microblogging service Sina Weibo has followed through on a promise to institute a "contract" with users over their conduct on the communication platform.

Sina Weibo's new code of conduct, introduced today, takes aim at users who attempt to post messages that speak unkindly of China's constitution, harm the "unity, sovereignty, or territorial integrity" of the country, or reveal national secrets, according to Reuters, which was first to report on the news. The code also bans users from spreading rumors and promoting "evil teachings and superstitions."

Sina Weibo earlier this month announced that it planned to institute a new code of conduct. That code became especially onerous to censorship critics in Article 13, which included many of the alleged offenses outlined above.

Over the last couple of years, Sina Weibo has stood at the epicenter of a battle between China's notoriously censor-happy government and Web users. The country's government, in most cases through controlled media, has said time and again that it believes rumors, blogs, and microblogging services are detrimental to its citizens.

"The rapid advance of this flood has also brought 'mud and sand'--the spread of rumors--and to nurture a healthy Internet, we must thoroughly eradicate the soil in which rumors grow," government-controlled media outlet Xinhua wrote last year. "Concocting rumors is itself a social malady, and the spread of rumors across the Internet presents a massive social threat."

The news agency then called for "stronger Internet administration from the responsible agencies, raising the intensity of attacks on rumors."

Xinhua got its wish last month when Sina Weibo announced to its user base that it had banned several users for allegedly engaging in rumor mongering. The users' messages were believed to have ignited rumors of a possible coup.

"Recently, criminal elements have used Sina Weibo to create and spread malicious political rumors online for no reason, producing a terrible effect on society," Sina Weibo wrote in a notice to its users last month. Sina Weibo went on to say that the accused had "already been dealt with by public security organs according to the law."

Now that Sina Weibo has implemented its new code of conduct, the company has also started a points system. For each violation, a specific amount of points are deducted from their initial 80 points, according to Reuters. Once all 80 points are lost, their account is deleted.