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China’s Cyber Authority Demands Self-Discipline from All Social Media Platforms

The Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission and the Cyberspace Administration of China are two different names given to one single identity. The former is a department level body within the Chinese Communist Party system, a commission of the CCP’s Central Committee; the latter is a ministry level agency in the central government of China. Both names share the same abbreviation – CAC, which is China’s top authority regulating cyber affairs.

On November 14, the CAC met with a list of major Chinese social media — Baidu, Tencent, Sina, Toutiao, Sohu, NetEase, UC,, Phoenix, and Zhihu. The CAC instructed these platforms to examine their user accounts comprehensively and to take corrective measures so that their user accounts follow an industry wide uniform standard. CAC also required each platform to perform a “cleanup” of the self-media accounts immediately and never allow the disciplined accounts to be “reborn” under another user name or achieve a “reincarnation” on another platform.

The ongoing campaign against social media started on October 20 and has “dealt with” 9,800 some accounts. The official reports said that the main issues are: A) spreading politically harmful information, maliciously tampering with the history of the Party and the nation, disparaging heroes, and damaging the image of the country; B) creating rumors, spreading false information, using sensational article titles, profiting from the spread of rumors, using false information to attract attention, and disturbing the normal social order; C) willfully spreading vulgar and pornographic information, disrupting the social order and traditions, challenging the moral bottom line, damaging the healthy growth of the young people; using a large number of self-media accounts for malicious marketing, adopting black PR (influential netizens hired to use postings to support or attack some companies), extortion, infringing on the legitimate rights and interests of normal enterprises or individuals, challenging the bottom line of the law; D) willfully plagiarizing, attracting cyber fans by “washing articles” (make minor modifications of other’s original articles), fake web traffic, and disrupting the normal order of communication.

Most of the disciplined social media accounts are on Tencent’s WeChat and Sina’s Weibo platforms. CAC also stressed that “social media is by no means a lawless place.” “In the next step, CAC will work with other branches to strengthen inspection and supervision of the social media platforms. It will strictly investigate and punish the irresponsible and problematic companies, so that illegal social media accounts have nowhere to hide.”

CAC also issued the “Security Assessment Provisions for Internet Information Service with Public Opinion Attributes or Social Mobilization Capabilities,” which will be implemented on November 30. This regulation includes all of the following cyber services or functions into the category of being “with Public Opinion Attributes or Social Mobilization Capabilities” and scope of regulation: forums, blogs, microblogs, chat rooms, communication groups, public accounts, short videos, webcasts, information sharing, and small applications.

Source: Radio France International, November 16, 2018