China’s State Internet Information Office announced this afternoon (Beijing time) a regulation on public accounts on mobile messaging apps, requiring real-name registration, according to People’s Daily Online (announcement in Chinese).
Tencent stock fell about 3% in a couple of hours before the market closed today. Two major players in China’s mobile messaging market, Tencent’s WeChat and EasyChat, the chatting app jointly operated by NetEase and China Telecom, have public account system. Of the two, WeChat holds a dominant market share and has had an active public account ecosystem.
As of last month (July 2014), WeChat had had 5.2 million public accounts, including subscription accounts who send subscribers contents (text, images or videos) and service accounts who do CRM or sell goods.
The regulation just issued is more targeted at subscription accounts, for it requires that public accounts who produce or repost news, especially political news, should hold licenses for producing and distributing news online. It also asks chatting apps to report on accounts who violate the regulation and turn over message records whenever required.
While asking for real-name registration, the regulation allows public accounts use whatever display names they like.
That Tencent’s stock price fell may reflect that some investors worried about regulatory risks, but in China many people believe it will have positive impact on WeChat, for it’s less likely messages offensive to the government will be spreading on it so that WeChat won’t be blocked all together.
In a statement released shortly after the regulation was announced, Tencent said prior to this regulation they had deleted more than 3000 articles and wiped out 400 public accounts because of message fraud, spam or malicious rumors. There are more than 6000 accounts run by Chinese authorities, according to the statement.