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China shutters social media accounts of independent news sources

China shutters social media accounts of independent news sources

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has shut down almost 10,000 social media accounts for “spreading politically harmful information”.

According to Reuters, the accounts were largely operated by independent news providers not registered with the Chinese state – dubbed “self-media” by the CAC. They were targeted under a sweeping crackdown on unofficial news which was launched by the regulator last month.

These so-called self-media channels typically provide offer critical opinions that fall outside of party lines, whether on political developments or celebrity news. Under President Xi Jinping, the Communist Party has enacted several laws aimed at reducing the spread of such opinions via stricter online censorship.

While the CAC’s crackdown has also taken aim at illegal content such as pornography, the South China Morning Post has noted that 1,300 websites have been taken offline in the past three years to “maintain a clean cyberspace”, prompting complaints from internet users that any criticism is being shut down.

CAC seems unconcerned about such accusations, having issued a warning to social media chiefs – including the bosses of WeChat and Weibo – that “the chaos among self-media accounts has seriously trampled on the dignity of the law and damaged the interests of the masses”.

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