Chinese social media platform Douban is making it more complex for users from abroad to register a new account. The move comes after Beijing tightened regulations on networking platforms. However, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), Douban is a sanctuary for the Chinese to discuss more liberal topics.

Its overseas users used to register accounts with their foreign phone numbers. But now, they need to have a mobile phone number from the mainland.

It also requires people to submit their real name, ID or passport number, and facial information. Similar demands also apply to mainland users.

Besides that, users can only publish posts or create groups if they use facial recognition. The company assures that it does not store biometric data but does not explain how it works.

SCMP said for users from other countries; the new requirements are barring most of them from joining Douban.

The rules came out on Wednesday, April 27. As a result, Douban blocked the reply function on one of its most populous discussion groups named Life Group in English on the same day. The group has more than 900,000 members.

Douban explained that it was censoring “radical content related to politics and ideology.”

Just two weeks ago, Douban suspended seven popular groups that host many users, including the Douban Goose group, or in Chinese. It had about 680,000 members.

Last year, Beijing went after the platform for the unlawful release of information with a fine of $235,000.

The latest changes came just weeks after China’s cyberspace regulator dispatched a team to Douban to mend “serious network chaos.”

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