Internet

China investigates internet giants over ‘violence, rumours, porn’

Content allegedly including “violence, rumours, porn,” which China says threaten national security and social order, are reported to be circulating on Chinese versions of Google, Twitter and WhatsApp.

People read on smart phone in subway train.  In China, the

China is investigating popular social media platforms for content involving "violence, porn [and] rumours" ahead of the ruling party's 19th Communist Party Congress which will see the renewal of its leadership.

Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images

The internet is in trouble with China's government. Again.

The Cyberspace Administration of China is investigating WeChat, Weibo and Baidu -- the Chinese equivalents of WhatsApp, Twitter and Google --  due to reports filed by Chinese internet users alleging illegal content, such as "violence, rumours [and] porn," is being circulated on the platforms, it said in a statement on Friday.  

The content poses a threat to "national security, public safety and social order" and flouts the cybersecurity law, it added. Each of the platforms boast hundreds of millions of users.  

The move comes after news emerged last week that the country held a drill to familiarise companies with censoring "harmful information" from the internet. These efforts come as the Chinese ruling party gears up for its 19th Communist Party Congress in October, where it will renew its leadership.

The government has been cleaning up "negative talk" about itself, previously telling Weibo to shut down content that is seen as detrimental to its reputation. It also removed Winnie the Pooh from the internet for a while, thanks to internet users comparing the cartoon bear to Chinese president Xi Jinping.

Chinese internet users will also find themselves restricted only to local sites after the government shuts down VPNs to keep foreign sites it has no control over out of the country. Cooperating with the government's crackdown on VPNs, Apple pulled VPN apps from its Chinese App Store last month, prompting protests from VPN providers. Its CEO, Tim Cook, said the move was made so it is compliant with local regulations.

In a newly updated post, Weibo said it was "sorry" about the negative experience it has brought users due to the circulation of undesirable content, and will work with CAC to correct the matter and fight illegal content.

CNET has reached out to the CAC for a comment.

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