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China Cracks Down on Instant Messaging Services

  • VOA News

FILE - A picture illustration shows icons of WeChat and Weibo app in Beijing.

FILE - A picture illustration shows icons of WeChat and Weibo app in Beijing.

China has announced a month-long crackdown on those who spread "illegal and harmful information" on the country's popular instant messaging services.

The State Internet Information Office said Wednesday the campaign will target those with public accounts on services such as WeChat, which has over 800 total million users.

The statement said the campaign will focus on "those spreading rumors and information related to violence, terrorism, and pornography, as well as those using instant messaging for fraud."

It did not specify what censorship measures would be taken, but said service providers would be held accountable if they do not comply with the government's demands.

China already blocks many popular foreign social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, forcing its citizens to use domestic, more easily controlled alternatives.

The Chinese government requires social media providers to block material deemed by the Communist Party to be subversive.

The crackdown comes as Beijing deals with a series of attacks blamed on separatists in the far-western province of Xinjiang. The government said many of the separatists have used online videos to spread their beliefs.

The SIIO statement did not reference the Xinjiang unrest, but vowed to "firmly fight against infiltration from hostile forces at home and abroad."

WeChat is a service run by TenCent Holdings Ltd. It allows users to share pictures, videos and messages with individual users or to all of their followers.
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