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Chinese network platforms display users' IP locations for more transparency in cyberspace.
Source: | Author:QS | Published time: 2022-05-18 | 122 Views | Share:

Sina Weibo announced on April 28 that IP addresses and location would be made public, and so the location of users will be made public on their account pages as well as their comments on every posts. WeChat announced on the 29th that the user's IP location will be displayed on the public platform and that users cannot actively close the relevant display. On April 15, besides Weibo and WeChat, Zhihu, Douyin, Kuaishou, Toutiao, Baijiahao and Xiaohongshu had also announced that they were going to publish the IP location of their user accounts, where it would be fully published online after testing.

The IP attribution of all Internet users in real life will be visible in the future when they comment.

The purpose of this product was defined in the announcement by several major online platforms as "reducing bad behavior such as pretending to be the hosts to popular events, spreading spiteful rumors, and clout-chasing, as well as ensuring that users obtain accurate and useful information at the first attempt."

As a result of the anonymity of social media, some phenomena such as false remarks, spreading rumors, and impersonation have emerged. This makes it difficult for the truth to be revealed. The display of IP addresses strengthens the connection between users' online behavior and the real world and further raises the threshold for online voice and makes netizens more cautious when speaking online. 

The display of IP address location is an effective way of preventing bad network behaviors and maintaining network order. However, how to utilize this function effectively and prevent other negative repercussions derived from it also puts forward greater demands on the refined management of the platforms.

China's Central Cyberspace Administration is implementing the "Clean and Bright Cyber Violence Special Governance Action" at the moment, which mostly targets 18 websites and platforms that are prone to and frequently experience cyber violence and have significant social influence. It requires the establishment and improvement of a long-term cyber-violence governance mechanism, and the establishment and improvement of measurements such as monitoring and identification, real-time protection, intervention and disposal, and traceability and accountability, so as to conduct full-chain governance against cyber-violence.

Regarding the accuracy of IP location, Weibo and several other platforms explained that their sites only show the corresponding IP territorial locations, in which they do not retrieve other information. The location is calculated according to the IP address of the operator. Reports indicate that the account IP location displayed on the platform is based on the user's network location at the time a post or comment was made, and that the location is determined by the information provided by the operator.

In spite of rumors being impossible to eradicate once and for all, IP location nevertheless acts as a deterrent to cyber violence.

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