Published: Sun, August 13, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

China Plans Crackdown on Social Media 'Fake News'; Tencent Shares Tumble

China Plans Crackdown on Social Media 'Fake News'; Tencent Shares Tumble

China has launched probes into three of its largest social networking platforms over the suspected dissemination of violence and obscenity - the latest move aimed at sanitising the country's increasingly closed-off internet.

China's president Xi Jinping has made cyber sovereignty one of the government's top priorities and reasserted the party's role in guiding and limiting online discussion.

Chinese Internet authorities have opened cases to investigate three social media platforms - Tencent's Wechat, Sina Weibo and Baidu Tieba, for not stopping the circulation of illegal online content, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said Friday.

Such materials "endanger national security, public security and the social order" and are illegal under a cybersecurity law that came into force in June, the agency said. Tencent and Weibo did not respond to requests for comment.

China Daily Life
WeChat, Weibo and Baidu Tieba investigated for violation of cyber security laws

Shares of Hong Kong-listed Tencent, in which Napers owns 33 percent, fell nearly 5 percent.

Upon the official announcement, WeChat, Weibo and Baidu all immediately released statements to indicate their willingness and determination to closely cooperate with the government to solve these issues on their platforms.

Last month, cyber authorities called on the same firms to carry out immediate "cleaning and rectification" at a meeting with their representatives, where the authorities cited specific examples of illicit content, including rumours about party officials and misrepresenting Chinese military history.

Messaging app WeChat and microblogging service Weibo are China's most popular social media platforms, and have thrived due to the absence of western competitors like Facebook and Twitter that are banned by the country's censors. However, the Communist Party is on a campaign to crack down on sites not under its direct control: in May, the Office for Cyberspace Administration announced a new regulation that required all services at online news sites to be overseen by party-sanctioned editorial staff.

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