China has recently launched a series of close investigations on 3 of its top social media platforms, WeChat (messaging app), Weibo (China’s version of Twitter) and Tieba (a very popular discussion forum) for failing to comply with the country’s internet laws and regulations. The three services are being accused of “spreading violence and obscenity” in the recent string of the government’s attempts to cleanse the web and impose the Communist Party’s sovereignty over the internet in China.
Since the beginning of this year, President Xi Jinping has dedicated most of his efforts to control the internet and reinforce severe cyber security laws by giving more liberty to the ruling Communist Party to direct the internet audience into what seems appropriate to the government.
“Users are spreading violence, terror, false rumours, pornography and other hazards to national security, public safety, social order,” China’s regulator posted on its website.
Baidu Inc’s discussion forum “Tieba” expressed “deep regret” over this dire situation and will remove all content that is deemed inappropriate by the authorities. The company said that it will “actively cooperate with government departments to rectify the issue and increase the intensity of auditing”.
As for Weibo, the company said in an official statement that it is “deeply aware of its responsibilities” and that the “next step for us will be to upgrade our technology and artificial control measures to combat… undesirable content, continuing to enhance our ability to find and dispose of bad information, guide and encourage users to report (such content) and intensify efforts to manage it”.
This is not the first and clearly not the last of the Chinese government’s attempts to tighten the noose on the internet and online services. Over the past few months the government launch a chain of clamp downs on celebrity gossip websites, VPN services, social media websites, news portals and messaging apps to control the information shared among Chinese netizens. Popular social media platforms such as: Facebook and Twitter are already banned in China that is why services like Weibo and WeChat, which has 940 million in total and 350 million monthly active users, have gathered massive popularity in the country. Now that the government is targeting those services, it is going to be very problematic for Chinese users to communicate freely with each other even through local social media websites and messaging apps.
According to Pakistan Today, ““The Red Guard generation is in power now,” one Weibo commenter said of the latest investigation, alluding to a 1960s youth paramilitary movement that tormented and attacked people whom they perceived to be opposed to Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution.”