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China Clamping Down on Social Media Services

Chinese authorities have launched another in their semi regular clamp downs on social media services, claiming that they are used to “distribute illegal and harmful information, seriously undermining public interests”.

A number of arrests have been made following the tracking of messages that the authorities claim are linked to terrorist activities.

Despite the stringent monitoring of messaging services by government censors, there are still more than 800 million users of services such as WeChat which allow users to express opinions that sometimes go against government policies.

The rise of OTT platforms has also been in part attributed to the censorship issue as users seek to evade monitoring of conversations deemed disrespectful to the government and state.

China’s official media agency, Xinhua said that the latest campaign will “target public accounts on instant messaging services, which can spread information on a large scale and mobilize followers”.

This is actually different to their claims of clamping down on terrorism though, as those accounts are often kept scrupulously private by their users for obvious reasons.

It looks more like the government is carrying out one of its periodic public purges to remind users that they are being watched, and to watch what they say.

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