China's Weibo looks to reward citizen censors with iPhones, tablets

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese social media firm Weibo Corp is looking to recruit citizen censors to help weed out sensitive content on its platform, rewarding those who report the highest numbers of offending posts with iPhones and tablets.

The platform posted a statement on Wednesday saying it was looking for an initial 1,000 “Weibo supervisors” as part of a program overseen by the Beijing arm of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the country’s top Internet watchdog.

The CAC on Monday fined Weibo along with rival tech giants Tencent Holdings Ltd and Baidu Inc for failing to properly censor illegal content on its site, including political articles and social commentary as well as violence, fake news and nudity.

Chinese authorities and tech firms are stepping up censorship controls before the 19th National Congress next month, a major leadership event held once every five years where President Xi Jinping is expected to consolidate power.

Successful applicants to Weibo’s new program must flag over 200 posts each month to receive a stipend of 200 yuan ($30.13). The 10 supervisors who report the most posts per month will receive prizes such as Apple Inc iPhones it added.

Weibo, a microblogging service similar to Twitter, is China’s second most popular social media platform after Tencent’s messaging app WeChat, and has been singled out by authorities over illegal content several times this year.

The firm’s U.S.-listed stock dropped sharply in June when its video service was ordered by the CAC to briefly suspend services for “failing to promote core socialist values”. The company said at the time it would work to promote more mainstream ideas as part of a comprehensive overhaul.

Reporting by Cate Cadell; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Keith Weir