50 Microblogs Shuttered as Web Crackdown Continues

An official with China’s new Internet watchdog announced Monday that authorities recently shut down 50 microblogs for pornography and vulgarity, the latest in a series of crackdowns since the government began implementing recently-passed measures designed to aid its control of information on the web. From China Daily:

According to an unnamed official from the State Internet Information Office, the microblogs were shut down for violations that include carrying pornographic images and videos, information for prostitution, as well as illegal advertising for sex-related drugs and productions.

Chinese law prohibits all forms of pornography, prostitution and sex-related contents in public media and Internet services.

Members of the public reported the microblogs, which were then investigated and closed by authorities, the official said.

The official said the spread of porn and vulgar material has been effectively contained since a crackdown on Internet- and cellphone-based pornography was launched in 2009.

Police detained three individuals last week for separate cases of online rumor-mongering and authorities have not hesitated to suspend users for spreading unfounded rumors on sites such as Sina Weibo. Today Sina’s rival, Tencent, said it was working on ways to police itself. From The Wall Street Journal:

Tencent Chairman Pony Ma didn’t specify what new methods Tencent is developing. But on the sidelines of a forum in Beijing on Monday, he said the pressure is more than political. “This isn’t just a government demand,” he said. “I think society also has this demand.”

“We feel perplexed” that false information can appear on Tencent Weibo, Mr. Ma said. “There should be oversight, but this oversight is beneficial in the long term, it’s helpful. Otherwise, I think this issue would be very chaotic.”

Chinese officials in recent months have stepped up their calls for Internet companies to better police their own services for “harmful information” and “rumors.” The terms are often bywords for information seen as sensitive by China’s leaders.

See also previous CDT coverage of the development and enforcement of China’s Internet regulations, including an August crackdown on 6,000 sites for manipulating and spreading information via illegal public relations deals.