As of 1st March China will impose a ban on fake internet accounts that impersonate individuals and organizations. The country will force people to use their real names when creating online accounts, Reuters reports. This comes after news that China blocked a number of virtual private networks (VPNs) recently, stopping people from bypassing the stringent online firewalls in place in the country.
This isn't the first time that China has attempted to force internet users to use their real names when registering for online accounts, although previous attempts have had limited effect on the practice.
There are a number of accounts that pretend to be government bodies and various foreign leaders, the articles notes. Fake accounts of China's anti-corruption agency and People's Daily—a new organization—are currently in existence, along with fake accounts for Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin.
The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) claims that this crackdown will help to stop rumours circulating online, as well as mockery in the form of parody accounts of prominent leaders. The onus will lie on internet companies to ensure these new rules are upheld, announced the CAC. These companies include Tencent Holdings Ltd, which runs online instant messaging services WeChat and QQ.
Weibo Corp, a microblog operator, is another named internet operator that will need to get on top of enforcing these rules. A spokesperson for the company said that they strongly support the new regulations and are looking to strengthen management of accounts in order to ensure they crack down on fake ones. Within the last month the company removed 293 "harmful" accounts, including fake political ones, pornographic ones and those related to public security.