China’s latest internet crackdown targets content on Tencent, Weibo and Baidu

Observers say the enhanced scrutiny is characteristic of President Xi Jinping’s administration.

By Yeo Kaiqi | August 11, 2017

Scrutiny over internet content in China tightened further as online regulators launched an investigation into reports of violations at news services run by internet giants Tencent Holdings Ltd., Baidu Inc. and Weibo Corp on Aug 11.

The latest internet crackdown is targeted at user-generated content from more than 1.5 billion accounts on Baidu’s “Tieba” forums, Weibo’s Twitter-like micro-blogging platforms, and Tencent’s WeChat messaging service, as they are found with information related to “the incitement of violence, porn and rumours”.

In the statement released on Friday, the Cyber Administration of China said that officials have instructed its Beijing and Guangdong branches to look into cases of such offensive user-generated content that could potentially “endanger national security, public security and social order”.

It has also stated that the three social media giants are suspected to have violated cybersecurity laws and other regulations, especially for not monitoring and managing their user-generated content.

While the statement did not specify when the actions would be taken or whether the regulation would be enforced on content generated by non-domestic users, it has appealed for information on “illegal” content that breached the regulations.

China had earlier banned Winnie the Pooh for its uncanny resemblance to President Xi Jinping.

It had also targeted news sites, chatbots, and connectivity networks such as the Virtual Private Networks (VPN).

According to Bloomberg, China has applied increasing pressure over internet media in the run-up to an important Communist Party congress later this year that is expected to consolidate President Xi Jinping’s authority. Intent on muzzling potential sources of disruptive information, the government has shut livestreaming services and websites, tightened regulations governing internet access, and issued repeated warnings about the need to clean up content through various agencies. Observers say the enhanced scrutiny is also characteristic of Xi’s administration.

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About Yeo Kaiqi

Kaiqi believes she's the reincarnation of ancient China's royalty. When she's not deluded, she behaves like a cat hoping to conquer the internet.

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