Guangdong censor closes 30 entertainment news accounts as crackdown continues

Tencent told to shut down the accounts with content including celebrity gossip, film reviews and fashion tips

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 June, 2017, 12:26am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 June, 2017, 10:56pm

Guangdong’s online censor has shut down 30 celebrity gossip social media accounts as authorities continue a crackdown on entertainment content.

The provincial administration told social media giant Tencent, which is based in Shenzhen, to close the accounts, according to Guangdong publicity department website Southcn.com.

It comes after the Beijing office of the Cyberspace Administration of China on Wednesday said it had shut down at least 60 entertainment news accounts on Weibo, Tencent, NetEase and Baidu.

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The censorship agency said the accounts were closed in line with the country’s new cybersecurity law, which came into effect on June 1 and stipulates that online content should not breach privacy.

In Guangdong, the accounts shut down mostly offered entertainment news and gossip, with some carrying film reviews and fashion tips.

Deputy provincial party boss Ren Xuefeng told a government meeting on Friday that Guangdong must take on board and act on President Xi Jinping’s cybersecurity directions, the official website said. Xi set up the Cyberspace Affairs Leading Group in early 2014, pushing the idea of “internet sovereignty”.

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Media analyst Qiao Mu said the campaign against entertainment content was a further erosion of freedom of speech on the mainland, as the authorities removed gossipy social media accounts that it felt were not in line with socialist values.

“This is an attempt by the top leaders to revive communist ideology and promote the previous generation’s virtues such as hard work and facing up to challenges,” Qiao said.

The Beijing censorship agency said the accounts were being closed to “proactively promote socialist core values and develop a healthy and positive atmosphere” and curb “excessive reporting on the private lives of and gossip about celebrities” and the “flaunting” of their wealth and lifestyles.

Additional reporting by He Huifeng