Why China Removed 1.4 Million Social Media Posts

Following a two-month investigation into alleged false information, illegal profiteering, and impersonation of state officials, among other “pronounced problems,” China’s cyberspace regulator announced that 1.4 million social media posts had been removed.

In a statement released on Friday, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) claimed that as part of a larger “rectification” campaign, it had closed 67,000 social media accounts and deleted hundreds of thousands of posts between March 10 and May 22.

China started focusing on social media accounts in the billions in 2021 in an effort to “clean” its cyberspace and make it simpler for authorities to control.

The most recent crackdown targeted WeChat, Douyin, and Weibo accounts that are classified as “self media,” which is a term that broadly refers to accounts that publish news and information but are not controlled by the government or sanctioned by the state.

Beijing frequently detains people and censors accounts for disseminating or criticising the Communist Party, the government, or the military in factual information that is deemed sensitive or goes viral.

Nearly 8,000 of the 67,000 accounts that were closed permanently were removed for “spreading fake news, rumours, and harmful information,” according to CAC.

Another 930,000 accounts were given less severe penalties, such as losing all of their followers or having their ability to make money suspended or cancelled.

To combat the rise of online fake news coverage aided by AI technologies, the regulator recently closed over 100,000 accounts that allegedly misrepresented news anchors and media organisations.

Almost 13,000 fake military accounts with names like “Chinese Red Army Command,” “Chinese Anti-terrorist Force,” and “Strategic Missile Force” were the target of the CAC’s most recent campaign, the agency announced on Friday.

Approximately 25,000 additional accounts were chosen to pose as government organisations like disease and prevention control centres and state-run research institutes.

Over 430,000 people are accused of providing professional advice or educational services without having the necessary professional qualifications, and nearly 187,000 people were fined for impersonating news media organisations.

In the neighbourhood of 45,000 accounts were closed for “hyping hot issues, clout-chasing, and illegal monetisation.”

The regulatory body claimed to have “actively coordinated with public security, market supervision, and other departments, to deliver a heavy blow and rectify illegal’self-media’.”

Additionally, “(we) also call on the majority of netizens to actively participate in monitoring and reporting (illegal “self-media”), provide hints, and jointly maintain a clean cyberspace,” the statement continued.

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