Chinese scholar sues Sina for closing Weibo account
MANILA, Philippines - Sina Corp, the company behind China's Sina Weibo microblogging service, is in the eye of the public again. A Chinese scholar has filed a lawsuit against the company after it took down his account in September without explanation.
The Global Times reports that Zhang Yaojie, a scholar and biographer, filed the suit after the September incident. It was the second time his Sina Weibo account had been shut down, and it was noted that Weibo kept collecting the monthly membership fee of 10 yuan (US$1.61) he had been paying since August to have additional services tied to his account.
According to Zhang, he was not posting any sensitive content that could have made Weibo close his account. His other blog on rival service Tencent Weibo had more open political commentary but had not been taken down. "I understand that the service provider sometimes has to delete some posts and so I try to only repost other people's entries," Zhang said, "but they still shut down my account without any explanation or notification."
While the amount might not seem significant, the repercussions of Zhang's lawsuit are. The Next Web's analysis of the situation notes that "it does make public the grudge that censored users hold against the company, which is often opaue about the steps it takes to block and filter Weibo content and accounts."
Following earlier news of China's shutdown of a liberal-leaning website and a rant from a Sina Weibo web manager about how the service acts like a "human flesh shield," attention is being paid towards how this case will be handled especially among China's free speech advocates.
Wang Zhenyu, Zhang's lawyer, told The Global Times that Sina was aware of the lawsuit, though the court has yet to accept the case. Wang thinks the court might try to mediate matters before filing the case, and Sina Corp has yet to reply. - Rappler.com