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Censorship in China

China’s Communist Youth League says Twitter accounts opened in its name are fake

It will ask the social media platform to close down ‘official’ accounts that have appeared this month

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 September, 2017, 9:07pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 September, 2017, 11:14pm

The Communist Party’s youth wing will ask Twitter to close down all accounts recently opened in its name on the social media platform, saying it did not set them up.

“We reserve the right to take any other legal action against [this infringement],” the Communist Youth League of China’s publicity office said in a statement on Wednesday.

The South China Morning Post reported on Sunday that the youth league had set up a Twitter account but the office on Wednesday confirmed that it had not opened any accounts.

China’s Communist Youth League opens Twitter account

At least two accounts claiming to be run by the youth league were set up earlier this month. Tweets from the accounts written in Chinese began appearing last week and the accounts were still up and running on Wednesday, with about 2,000 followers each.

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The accounts were discovered by internet users on Sunday, both of which appeared to be genuine at first.

One of them – CYL @ccylchina – has been tweeting news from the youth league’s official Weibo account, China’s version of Twitter, and following the Twitter accounts of mainland state media outlets such as CCTV, People’s Daily and Xinhua.

In recent days it has been flooded with criticism of the Chinese authorities.

The second account – @ComYouthLeague – has been tweeting news from Hong Kong and Taiwan, including stories about pro-independence banners at Hong Kong universities.

Twitter and Facebook are among a number of foreign social media platforms and websites that are blocked in China. Despite this, some Communist Party mouthpieces are using these platforms to get their message across. People’s Daily has been using Twitter since 2011 and currently has about four million followers. It also has 40 million followers on Facebook.

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The government has in recent months tightened internet controls including shutting down virtual private networks that allow people to access these websites as it tries to prevent internet users from viewing content it deems inappropriate.

On September 8, China’s internet regulator issued an ultimatum to all users of Weibo demanding they register their accounts under their real names. The deadline for compliance passed on Friday.

Also this month, Beijing issued new rules to make chat group administrators legally responsible for messages posted in their forums, while a member of a Muslim minority group was sentenced to two years in prison for forming an online discussion group to teach Islam.