Influencers, online mobs targeted in China social media cleanup

The CAC’s move is the latest sign that regulators want to increase control on a format popularised by tech giants like TikTok owner ByteDance Ltd. — AFP

China plans to crack down on harmful social media content, in a sign that the country’s Internet firms – already roiled by previous curbs – will face continued scrutiny from the authorities.

The steps include “rectifying” the spread of certain content on short video platforms and taking action to control teenage addiction to those apps, Niu Yibing, vice minister of the Cyberspace Administration of China, the national Internet regulator, said at a Tuesday briefing.

It’s the latest sign that regulators want to increase control on a format popularised by tech giants like TikTok owner ByteDance Ltd. The steps also echo talking points from China’s powerful National Radio and Television Administration. The body said in February that it’s considering ways to tighten oversight of the short video industry, without naming any companies.

In recent years, Beijing has clamped down on the tech industry in the world’s second-largest economy. The government has tried to wean youth off excessive gaming and other pursuits considered undesirable. In 2021, the authorities abruptly limited gaming time for children to three hours a week, spooking investors and cutting into the profits of companies including Tencent Holdings Ltd and NetEase Inc.

Niu also said that China will try to stop so-called “water armies” – or users paid to spread certain messages online. Officials plan to take action against people who make money from harming companies’ and entrepreneurs’ reputations on the Internet, according to Shen Yue, another CAC official.

The regulator wants to guide Internet platforms to establish a mechanism for supervising how media outlets run by individuals or amateur groups make their money.

Companies have complained about online trolls in the past. Carmaker Great Wall Motor Co even offered US$1.5mil to expose such users in a widely-mocked plan. Still, it’s unclear how effective such moves will be, since China’s cyberspace is already subject to strict monitoring. Nationalist cyber-armies have been known to target those deemed critical of China’s government and to pressure officials and websites to censor them. – Bloomberg

Follow us on our official WhatsApp channel for breaking news alerts and key updates!

Next In Tech News

UN chief tells consumer tech firms: own the harm your products cause
Music labels sue AI companies Suno, Udio for US copyright infringement
Foxconn to invest $383 million in Vietnam circuit board plant, says state media
Riot Platforms seeks three board seats at Bitfarms after thwarted takeover bid
Shopify expands access to its AI-powered features to attract more businesses
CDK hack upends US auto industry, sending dealers back to paper forms
Beyond Nvidia: The search for AI’s next breakthrough
For this CEO, a creative culture is one where people trust they can speak up
Microsoft’s Copilot will let you join three meetings at once, but experts say it misses the point: ‘No one has ever wanted to be in a meeting’
Hikes, nosy neighbours afflict Zimbabweans in quest for mobile connection

Others Also Read