China’s efforts to maintain control over its cyberspace have led to the deletion of 1.4 million social media posts during a comprehensive two-month investigation into alleged misinformation, illegal profiteering, and the impersonation of state officials, among other significant issues. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) announced on Friday that it had closed 67,000 social media accounts and removed hundreds of thousands of posts as part of a broader campaign to rectify the situation.
In recent years, China has targeted billions of social media accounts in an ongoing campaign to purify its cyberspace and enhance government oversight. The recent crackdown focused specifically on “self-media” accounts on popular Chinese social media platforms like WeChat, Douyin, and Weibo. The term “self-media” refers to accounts that publish news and information but are not government-controlled or authorized.
The Chinese authorities have a history of arresting individuals and censoring accounts that share factual information deemed sensitive or critical of the Communist Party, the government, or the military, especially when such information goes viral.
Out of the 67,000 permanently closed accounts, nearly 8,000 were shut down for spreading fake news, rumors, and harmful content, according to the CAC. Approximately 930,000 other accounts faced less severe penalties, ranging from the removal of all followers to the suspension or revocation of profit-making privileges.
In a separate campaign, the regulator recently shut down over 100,000 accounts that were involved in misrepresenting news anchors and media agencies to combat the rise of online fake news, often facilitated by AI technologies.
The latest crackdown also targeted approximately 13,000 counterfeit military accounts, including those with names such as “Chinese Red Army Command,” “Chinese Anti-terrorist Force,” and “Strategic Missile Force.” Additionally, 25,000 accounts were identified for impersonating public institutions like disease and prevention control centers and state-run research institutes.
Further actions were taken against nearly 187,000 accounts impersonating news media businesses, over 430,000 accounts offering professional advice or educational services without appropriate qualifications, and around 45,000 accounts engaged in sensationalism, clout-chasing, and illegal monetization.
The CAC emphasized that it actively collaborated with public security and market supervision departments to deliver a significant blow to illegal “self-media” activities. It also called upon netizens to play an active role in monitoring and reporting any instances of illegal “self-media” to collectively maintain a clean and regulated cyberspace.