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Censors close WeChat accounts for ‘spreading distorted historical information’

Internet censors ban 133 accounts on popular messaging app for sharing distorted historical information about China and the Communist Party

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 January, 2015, 11:43am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 April, 2015, 11:12am

The mainland's top internet regulator has shut down more than 130 WeChat accounts that purportedly spread lies about the history of China and its ruling Communist Party.

The Cyberspace Administration said the pages, many of which claimed to reveal historical secrets, blatantly spread "distorted historical information".

The authority said it had acted on a tip-off and closed 133 accounts on the popular messaging application after investigations, including one called "This is not History". An attempt to access "This is not History" yesterday led to a page warning that it had been banned for violating rules.

But some third-party websites continued to carry links to its posts, which included celebrity gossip, pranks on well-known mainland figures and criticism of Chinese politics.

Some posts that likely crossed the authority's line included a commentary on how patriotism was a mere slogan for corrupt officials, many of whom had sent their family members overseas. Another post slammed state-owned firms for milking the public and being mismanaged.

Among the accounts closed was also one that belonged to a 37-year-old Shanghai man.

"I realised on Monday morning that it had been banned," said the man, whose account - that had about 300,000 subscribers - featured content similar to that of "This is not History".

"I wasn't too surprised because many of my friends … also had their accounts shut down without warning.

"My page featured mostly celebrity gossip and pictures of women. Articles critical of officials did come up sometimes, but not too often. They may have been deemed too sensitive."

Mainland web giant Tencent, which owns WeChat, did not respond to a request for details.

A Cyberspace Administration official said the authority would step up law enforcement on the internet and continue to follow up on tip-offs from the public.

The regulator had earlier said mainland websites deleted more than a billion pornographic and harmful posts last year as part of an operation to clean up the internet. The authority also shut down about 2,200 websites and 20 million online forums, blogs and social media accounts that were spreading erotic and illegal content last year.