Following a two-month investigation into suspected false information, illicit profiteering, and impersonation of state officials, among other “pronounced problems,” China’s cyberspace regulator said that 1.4 million social media postings had been removed.
In a statement released on Friday, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said that as part of a larger “rectification” drive, it had canceled 67,000 social media accounts and erased hundreds of thousands of postings between March 10 and May 22.
China has targeted many social media accounts since 2021 in an effort to “clean” the internet and make it simpler for the government to regulate.
The most recent crackdown targeted “self-media” accounts on well-known Chinese social media platforms including WeChat, Douyin, and Weibo. It is a phrase that roughly describes websites that publish news and information but are not controlled by the government or recognized by the state. Beijing often detains people and blocks accounts for sharing or publishing material deemed sensitive or critical of the Communist Party, the executive branch, or the armed forces, particularly when such information becomes widely known.
Nearly 8,000 of the 67,000 accounts that were permanently terminated were deleted for “spreading false information, rumors, and harmful rumors,” according to the 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 increase of online fake news coverage enabled by AI technology, the regulator recently banned over 100,000 accounts that purportedly misrepresented news anchors and media organizations, according to Reuters.
Almost 13,000 fake military accounts with names like “Chinese Red Army Command,” “Chinese Anti-terrorist Force,” and “Strategic Missile Force” were the subject of the CAC’s most recent operation, the agency said on Friday.
A total of 25,000 more accounts were chosen to pose as official entities including illness and preventative control centers.
Over 430,000 people are accused of providing professional advice or educational services without having the necessary professional credentials, and over 187,000 people were fined for impersonating news media organizations. An estimated 45,000 accounts were terminated for “hyping hot issues, clout-chasing, and illegal monetisation”.
The regulator said that in order to deal a serious blow and correct unlawful “self-media,” it had “actively coordinated with public security, market supervision, and other departments.”
It said, “At the same time, (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.”