50 Websites and WeChat Accounts Shut Down

On January 13, the Cyberspace Administration of China announced that dozens of websites and WeChat accounts have been shut down over the past two months for a range of offenses. Reuters’ Adam Rose reports:

China has closed 50 and accounts for violations ranging from pornography to “publishing political news without a permit”, Beijing’s cyberspace watchdog said on Tuesday.

[…] Authorities shut 17 public pages on the mobile social messaging app Weixin, also known as in English, as well as 24 websites and 9 channels or columns on websites, the (CAC) said in a statement on its website (www.cac.gov.cn).

[…] Some of the other offences listed by CAC include publishing fake information under the guise of the government or media, and publishing information related to gambling or fraud.

Jiang Jun, a spokesman for the cyberspace watchdog, said the CAC would regularly publish a “black list” of violators, according to the statement. [Source]

In 2013, the Xi administration launched an anti-rumor campaign, which was given partial credit for prompting a mass exodus from Sina’s popular Weibo microblogging platform to Tencent’s WeChat. Last March, a crackdown on WeChat (and subsequent monthlong renewal in May) did much to expand authorities’ “Internet management” capabilities, as has an ongoing anti-vulgarity drive. Last August, Internet regulators unrolled new regulations for instant messaging including . The Global Times notes that 80% of WeChat users had registered their names as of last month, and the South China Morning Post reports that the CAC announced that real name registration rules would expand in 2015.

Coverage from Xinhua further details the offenses leading to the 50 closed sites and accounts, notes a high volume of public aid in rooting out undesired Internet content, and welcomes more public whistle-blowing in the future:

The move targeted mass-publication accounts as opposed to those used for personal communications. Some accounts that were closed masqueraded as public organizations or media groups, such as The People’s Daily and inspection groups of the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).

Others were closed for publishing political news without permits, selling counterfeit invoices and spreading information about gambling and guns.

[…] Data from the China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center showed that it handled more than 1 million tip-offs in 2014, most of which are related to pornographic content. The administration confirmed that it would welcome tip-offs from the public as usual. [Source]