China Investigates WeChat, Baidu Tieba and Weibo Over Alleged Cyber Security Laws Violations

By M. Grace, August 12, 2017 18:08 PM

Facebook's WhatsApp blocked in China(Pixabay)

China's Cyberspace Administration said that it is conducting an investigation towards the largest social media platforms in the country including WeChat, Weibo and Baidu Tieba due to an alleged violation of the cyber security laws.

According to the department, people have been using these social media platforms to spread terrorism-related material, obscenities and rumors. This has reportedly breached "jeopardized national security."

It is important to take note that China's officials heavily censor the internet and routinely block search terms or content they consider that are sensitive. China immediately trace posts through registered phone numbers and people were already aware of the things they need not to discuss online. In 2016, Freedom House ranked China as the world's worst abuser of internet freedom, saying that harsh punishments for internet expression and deteriorating legal environment are "significantly undermining civil society activism on the internet". It can be recalled that China also blocked foreign social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Weibo is China's version of Twitter, WeChat is an instant messaging mobile application while Baidu Tieba is a famous discussion forum online. These three platforms have been reported to have hundreds of millions of active users.

According to BBC, China's Cyberspace Administration accused internet users of "spreading violence, terror, false rumours, pornography and other hazards to national security, public safety, social order" on the three platforms.

In response, Baidu reportedly expressed regret and said that it would be willing to actively cooperate with the government to settle the issue. Moreover, it would reportedly increase the intensity of auditing along with the officials.

Tencent, which owns Weibo and WeChat, has not released any comment yet regarding this report.

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