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Sina’s anonymous citizen reporting site launches, mysteriously disappears

Sina is responsible for running some of China’s web properties. The Twitter-like Sina Weibo and its native blogging service are immensely popular. Hardly surprising then that its decision to launch a citizen reporting platform should make headlines.

Stuart Thomas: Senior Reporter
Stuart Thomas joined the Burn Media team in 2011 while finishing off an MA in South African Literature. Eager to prove his geek credentials, he allowed himself... More

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The thing is, it’s not making headlines because it’s wildly popular, but because it disappeared just moments after launching.

The site, called Baoliao is meant to be an anonymous news reporting site. Along with a number of stories reporting on its launch it has, however, disappeared from the web.

This isn’t some grand conspiracy either. The site and the articles on it did exist, very briefly. Tech in Asia managed to pick up cached versions of both the site and the articles.

Now if it was just Baoliao that was missing, it would be easy enough to dismiss as the site crashing under user demand. The disappearance of the articles relating to it, however, suggests that larger forces may be at play.

The Chinese government has already warned Sina for not being harsh enough on users who it deemed guilty of spreading false rumours. Given that it also recently passed legislation requiring the likes of Sina and its competitor Tencent to verify all the accounts on their social networks, its easy to see why an anonymous news site might not sit well.

According to China Internet News Watch, the site is meant be fairly intuitive and easy to use:

Sina Weibo users can click on the corresponding region of events, select a media and submit news tips. By default, the information will also be published through this citizen journalist’s Sina Weibo account unless she chooses not to.