China tightens scrutiny of inappropriate content for clean cyberspace



China has strengthened its regulation on content published on social media platforms, aiming to build up a clean cyberspace since some of the Chinese video streaming websites were found containing a number of disturbing video clips, most of which were targeted at children.

Earlier this month, a profusion of cartoon series reportedly contained inappropriate content, like cartoon characters in sexual or violent situations. The nation’s office against pornographic and illegal publications has launched a nationwide campaign to urge video websites including Tencent and Iqiyi to remove such videos.

A video clip is found carrying violent content.

The scrutiny of unhealthy or illegal information has since expanded to other social media platforms. On Saturday, Sina Weibo, one of China’s most influential social media platforms with 361 million monthly active users, was summoned by the local cyberspace watchdog Beijing Office of Cyberspace Affairs and asked to overhaul some features, including the hot topic list and headlines on its front page, for a week.

According to an official statement released by the office, it says that Sina Weibo did not fulfill its duty to sift through content published by users. Consequently, content of wrong public opinion orientation, low taste and ethnic discrimination continued to circulate on Sina Weibo, which has brought about adverse effects on the maintenance of a clean and safe cyberspace.

On the same day, a WeChat blogger was fined around 200,000 yuan (31,300 US dollars) by China’s top securities watchdog, China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), for producing and spreading wrong information to disrupt the order of the market.

According to Xinhua, the blogger, surnamed Cao and in media, composed a story in November of last year about “a private meeting” of financing institutions and real estate developers at CSRC through a verified WeChat account. However, the so-called closed-door meeting was a routine of CSRC.

With regard to the emergent social media and apps for live streaming, China has been updating its regulations as web hosts are pushing the bounds of acceptability to increase their viewership. Since 2016, dozens of live streaming websites have been warned or investigated due to vulgar content.

Some live streaming Apps

The Ministry of Culture even blacklisted around eight live streaming website in 2016, but the warning seemed tame to a few “adventurous” operators, including the recent investigated live streaming app “Peepla.” To clamp down on the vulgar or erotic live broadcast, the Beijing Office Against Pornography and Illegal Publications, along with the Beijing Cultural Law Enforcement Agency and local police have detained eight employees of the app and nine broadcasters. It is the first time that the police put both the live streaming operator and its users for broadcasting in custody.

China has been dedicated to setting up a clean and safe cyberspace. The Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs, established in 2014, has enacted a cybersecurity law and relevant regulations to tighten supervision on online security. Since the beginning of 2015, China has shut down more than 13,000 websites that were considered having contained illegal information.