Get more with myNEWS
A personalised news feed of stories that matter to you
Learn more
Weibo is in trouble again and the reason may be a former Alibaba executive. (Picture: Shutterstock)

China’s answer to Twitter ordered to freeze its trending topics

Weibo is halting “hot search” for a week

This article originally appeared on ABACUS
The Cybersecurity Administration of China has ordered China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo to suspend two features showing trending topics for a week, the cyberspace watchdog announced Wednesday. Weibo’s hot topic and hot search are being punished for the “dissemination of illegal information” among other issues, according to the CAC. 

The state body did not elaborate on the reasons for the decision but instead cited an incident involving a person surnamed Jiang. Local media speculates that the person in question is the former president of Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms Taobao and Tmall Jiang Fan. 

Jiang was embroiled in a very public Weibo spat in April when a woman believed to be Jiang’s wife publicly warned a social media influencer not to “mess with” her husband. The argument with the alleged mistress went viral on Weibo with the platform deleting some of the comments on the topic and Jiang losing his job. Abacus reached out to Alibaba for comment and will update if we receive a response.

(Abacus is a unit of the South China Morning Post which is owned by Alibaba.)

While the CAC is known to censor content deemed lowbrow as well as politically unsavory messages, freezing trending topics is an unusual move. The recent case, however, is not a precedent: In 2018, Weibo was ordered to conduct a week-long “self-inspection.” The result was a more sanitized version of its popular topics list, including a new section named New Era, one of the favorite catchphrases of Chinese president Xi Jinping. That same year, CAC shut down nearly 10,000 social media accounts including those on Weibo. The accounts covered a wide range of topics from celebrity gossip to social issues.