Danwei FM

Finding big brother in China's Facebook

You can't friend the nameless

This is a special edition Danwei FM podcast, where your correspondent interviews the "brand ambassadors" of Zhanzuo.com, one of several sites contending for the role of "China's Facebook". The topic is the real name system (实名制), also known as the identity verification system.

The real name system in China refers to top down policies of requiring web users to provide their real name and some other personal identifiers to register and use certain sites and services, particularly BBS and blogs. It is generally viewed unfavorably as a big-brotherish crackdown on online free-speech.

Social networking sites, given that their function is to search and connect with friends and contacts, by their very nature require one to register their real name. Chinese netizens nontheless lump this together with the real name system, and all the negative contexts associated with it.

This is especially a challenge for campus SNSs like Zhanzuo, since China's campuses are likely to be the place where one can find the most resistence to real name systems.

"Brand ambassadors" are student leaders Zhanzuo recruits to promote its platform. Their opinions are those of people who have a high involvement with the Zhanzuo platform, rather than those of the average users. This interview was recorded at one of their training events.

Listen to the translated version.

Listen to the untranslated version (中文版).

Read the transcript.

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