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China cracks down on news sites using social media sources

China has raised concerns over internet censorship after warning news organisations not to fabricate false news or use social media as a source without careful verification.

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China has issued a warning to news sites over using social media as a source.

César Salza/CNET

China has issued a crackdown on online news organisations across the country, warning them not use social media as a source without carefully verifying and fact-checking claims first.

The Cyberspace Administration of China issued the directive, with the state media agency Xinhua reporting that the move was made in a bid to combat "false news."

"It is forbidden to use hearsay to create news or use conjecture and imagination to distort the facts," Xinhua reported, according to a translation in the South China Morning Post.

"All websites should bear the key responsibility to further streamline the course of reporting and publishing of news, and set up a sound internal monitoring mechanism among all mobile news portals [and the social media chat websites] Weibo or WeChat," it said.

It's not the first time that China's vexed relationship with censorship and the internet has been in the spotlight. In 2014, censors targeted WeChat messaging accounts hosted by a number of journalists, while Google has long faced issues over with its Gmail service in China as well as the blocking certain search results, such as those associated with Beijing's Tiananmen Square.