China authorities issued new regulations (in Chinese) on the country’s instant messaging group chats on Thursday, requiring group chat owners to take full responsibility for the management of the groups.
Group chats on WeChat, QQ or Baidu Tieba have become popular in recent years, serving as online forums, given that these platforms provide a private space for discussions. However, Beijing is now taking action to tighten controls over the messaging apps.
The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) released a statement (in Chinese) on its website saying that the managers and owners of the group chats will have to be responsible for the management of the groups. Also, online chat providers must now verify the identities of the users and keep the blogs and logs of the group chats for at least six months.
Additionally, the rules also require the service providers to set up credit systems. Users who break the rules will have their credit score lowered, have their management rights suspended, and be reported to relevant government departments to keep them on file, said CAC on its website.
CAC especially highlighted in its statement that “whoever sets up the group should be responsible,” and that “whoever manages the group should be responsible.”
The new regulations will cover platforms provided by the country’s internet giants and budding startups, such as Baidu’s Tieba, Alibaba’s Alipay chat, Tencent’s WeChat and QQ, Sina’s Weibo, and the group chats in the rising dating app Momo.