×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

China Deletes Nearly 10,000 Social Media Accounts in Latest Crackdown

China’s Internet watchdog has scrubbed the country’s already highly censored web of nearly 10,000 social media accounts in the past three weeks. It is the ruling Communist Party’s latest move to clamp down on freedom of expression.

The cleanup began Oct. 20, the Cyberspace Administration of China said in a statement posted late Monday to its official website. The removals follows a similar purge in June that took down scores of entertainment news media accounts, among others. 

More than 9,800 accounts were removed from Chinese social media platforms such WeChat and Weibo, the country’s Twitter equivalent, as well as from its Google-like search engine Baidu. The sweep also included leading private-sector news aggregators Toutiao and Sohu. 

Deleted accounts included those of “a popular talk show celebrity, an entertainment blogger who shared film footage, online influencers commenting on social issues, and bloggers writing extensively on ethnicity,” according to the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

“Some spread politically harmful information, maliciously distorted party or state history, slandered heroes, or discredited the country’s image. Some created rumors, spread fake information, generated clickbait…disrupting the normal social order,” the CAC statement said. It added that other deleted accounts had participated in “malicious marketing,” extortion, or copyright infringement, while others had spread vulgar content, “challenging the moral bottom line and harming the healthy growth of the majority of young people.”

China has severely ramped up media policing since President Xi Jinping took office in 2012, and is increasingly concerned that airwaves and chatrooms should only be filled with government-friendly, “positive” content. Western social media sites including Google, Facebook, and Twitter are inaccessible in mainland China. Only content that passes strict censorship reviews is supposed to be aired or screened.

The crackdowns have sometimes been unintentionally absurd or hilarious. In 2016, authorities banned live-streamers from eating bananas in an “erotic” fashion while on camera. Last summer, they famously banned Western teen idol Justin Bieber from performing on the mainland. Authorities cited unspecified bad behavior on and off stage that they said made him an unsavory person who would prevent China from “purifying” and “maintaining order” in its performing arts scene. And in January, authorities asked TV shows to keep off air performers displaying tattoos or anything related to hip-hop music or subcultures.

The CAC called meetings to issue “serious warnings” to managers of Sina Weibo and Tencent’s WeChat, it said. The companies had been chastised for “irresponsible and neglectful management” of the social media space, which had “allowed wild growth and caused all kinds of chaos.”

Sina Weibo in turn said on its official account that it had “seriously accepted” the need to rectify its management procedures, and would “implement corrective actions” that focused on curbing pornographic and “politically harmful” content. It issued an 11-point list describing what now constitutes such content, including posts that “endanger national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” “spread rumors, disrupt social order, and undermine social stability,” or “distort, vilify or defame…heroic martyrs.”

In a series of posts earlier this week, Weibo also publicly named a number of popular accounts that had since been deleted, including some with nearly 5 million followers. It explained that others had been temporarily suspended for content such as a “beautiful male butt contest.”

Disgruntled users and fans took to Weibo to express their dismay over missing accounts, though it appeared that many negative messages were themselves soon censored. “Wow, they can really just totally wipe out a person in the blink of an eye. This round of purification is just too horrible,” one wrote Wednesday. “Even ‘big V’ online influencers are just sacrificial lambs – as the authorities sharpen their knives, everyone is in danger.” Another asked: “This person was only talking about economics — that’s not okay either?”

Bemoaning the loss of a popular account, one user wrote: “If even this account is closed, should we expect to be watching only ‘model operas’ in the coming years?” That is a reference to the eight politically approved stories that were the only ones permitted on screen or stage during the tumultuous years of the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution.

More Digital

  • hdhomerun roku app

    HDHomerun App Brings Live TV to Roku Devices

    Roku users are getting another way to watch live television with the help of their favorite streaming devices: Silicondust, maker of the HDHomerun TV tuners, has released a beta version of its HDHomerun app for Roku TVs and streaming devices. “We need to start out by saying this is very much a beta product,” the [...]

  • Vox Media

    Vox Media Staff Ratifies First Union Contract, Negotiated by Writers Guild

    Staffers at Vox Media, which includes Curbed, Eater, Polygon, Recode, SB Nation, The Verge and Vox.com, have ratified their first collective bargaining agreement with more than 90% in support. The staffers are represented by the Writers Guild of America East. Vox Media’s 350-member unit began bargaining their first contract in April 2018. The campaign to [...]

  • Joslyn Davis, Lily-Marston - Shared Media

    Clevver’s Joslyn Davis, Lily Marston Launch Their Own YouTube Media Venture (EXCLUSIVE)

    Here’s the latest chapter in the saga of Clevver, the entertainment/lifestyle YouTube network marooned by the shuttering of former parent Defy Media and subsequently snapped up by Hearst Magazines. Two of the principal creatives behind Clevver — Joslyn Davis and Lily Marston — together with Clevver Media co-founder Jorge Maldonado have launched Shared Media, their [...]

  • Money-Diaries-Refinery29

    Refinery29 to Produce Interactive Series Funded by Eko (EXCLUSIVE)

    Refinery29 has been bitten by the “Bandersnatch” bug. The millennial-female-focused digital media and entertainment company inked a pact with Eko, an interactive-video platform developer whose backers include Walmart, to produce several “choose-your-own-adventure”-style series based on Refinery29 content properties. The companies have started development on their first project: an interactive scripted adaptation of Refinery29’s popular “Money [...]

  • Dan Howell

    YouTube Star Dan Howell Comes Out as Gay: 'It Gets So Much Better'

    It’s Pride Month, and popular YouTube vlogger Dan Howell had a message for fans that he’d been working on for a year: “Basically, I’m Gay,” he shared in a video Thursday. In the 45-minute video, Howell discussed coming to terms with his sexual orientation and his thoughts on labels that people use to define themselves [...]

  • Netflix Expands Korean Content Commitment

    Netflix Expands Korean Content Commitment as Industry Deepens

    Global streaming giant, Netflix is expanding its involvement in the Korean film and TV industries by greenlighting several new shows and renewing others. “When we started three years ago, we had a high degree of confidence that Korean drama would work well in Asia, but we had no internal metrics of our own,” Korean content [...]

  • Instagram Logo

    Instagram Outage: Facebook’s Photo Sharing Service Went Down For Multiple Hours

    Instagram faced another major outage Thursday afternoon, with users from around the world reporting that they weren’t able to access Facebook’s photo sharing service via its app and website. An Instagram spokesperson told Variety around 5pm PT that the issue had been resolved: “Earlier today, a technical issue caused some people to have trouble accessing [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content