Skip to main content

China aims to eliminate ‘cancer’ in social networks


It’s no secret that China’s government is very wary of the Internet. In recent memory, the government’s tactics to deal with that unease have shifted from censoring information and news to trying to get a handle on social networks.

Early this morning, China’s state news agency gave the newest sign that Chinese social networks are under fire by imploring various networks to stop the “cancer” of online rumors. This announcement from the Xinhua agency was handed down only days after a high-ranking Communist Party official warned similarly against online “rumor-mongering,” according to the AFP report that translated the announcements.

It seems China is currently most concerned with the prevalence of microblogging sites in the country. The Twitter-style sites (Twitter itself is blocked in the country) are a valuable source of news and information. But just like any other network, there’s plenty of rumor and gossip as well. The government has latched on this in its attempts to limit the open flow of info across social networks.

Most recently microblog site Weibo, which is run by popular news and info site Sina, announced that it had suspended a pair of users for spreading false rumors. One was allegedly suspended for saying an accused murderer was released because of his family’s political connections, while the other accused the Chinese Red Cross of selling donated blood.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Sina has become ever-more pressured by the Chinese government to crack down on such reports. The network, which has 200 million users, responded to authorities’ calls to “absolutely put an end to fake and misleading information” by saying it would try harder to eliminate the sharing of false reports.

The CPJ says its just the Chinese government’s latest way of eliminating independent reporters. Official news outlets are forced to clear their reports before distributing them, but censorship of Weibo and other social media is limited censors that are often employed by the networks themselves. Those censors have been shown to have a difficult time keeping up with news reports that run contrary to the official line. With that in mind, one would expect the Chinese government to continue to step up its censoring efforts.

Editors' Recommendations

Derek Mead
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Polygram is a new social network that knows if that post really made you LOL

Sure, likes and even Facebook’s emoji reactions give users a good idea of what people think of their photos -- but a new social network could take responses to an entirely new level, without even clicking. Polygram is a new photo-based social network that gauges user response using artificial intelligence to recognize facial expressions, tallying up responses based on a smile or frown.

Polygram, which launched on iOS over the weekend, shows users just how everyone responded to their photo by using facial recognition technology to identify different expressions through a smartphone’s front-facing camera. That means you can see how many people liked your photo, who found it shocking, and who really laughed out loud based not on how many people decide to click, but on actual expressions while viewing the photo.

Read more
China’s cybersecurity crackdown has taken aim at WhatsApp

Reports have emerged out of China that the government's strengthened cybersecurity laws have claimed yet another victim: WhatsApp. The Facebook-owned messaging app, known for its worldwide reach, has been at least partially blocked, according to The New York Times. The move has crippled users' ability to send photos and video, and even hampered texting as well.

While the government has shown no reservations in the past in shutting down Facebook and Twitter inside its borders, WhatsApp managed to outlive both of them. While the app isn't necessarily as popular in China as it is elsewhere in the world -- Tencent's WeChat dominates in the region with an estimated 500 million users in China alone -- it is particularly handy for international communication as well as its built-in encryption feature.

Read more
Delete hate speech or lose millions, the German Network Enforcement Act says
network enforcement act germany 24480450  german parliament building reichstag in berlin

Recent events have social media platforms sharing just how they handle hate speech, but a new law in Germany called the Network Enforcement Act could push the issue even further. The law, which was just passed by the country’s parliament Bundestag, requires social media platforms to remove hate speech within 24 hours or face fines that could total up to 50 million euros, the equivalent of about $57 million in the United States.

The Network Enforcement Act, which will go into effect this October, says that social media platforms must remove hate speech, defamation, and incitements to violence, statements that are also illegal to make in the country. The law also requires the social media platforms to remove Nazi symbols and Holocaust denials.

Read more