China kills nine messaging apps for peddling pornography as internet crackdown gathers pace
- The move is part of an ongoing internet crackdown by Beijing to clean up its cyberspace, with recent efforts focusing more on apps and live-streaming content
China’s cyber watchdog has shut down nine instant messaging apps for spreading pornographic information or facilitating prostitution, as part of an ongoing effort to clean up the country’s cyberspace.
The new campaign is aimed at instant messaging services for spreading illegal information, anonymous registration, fraud and facilitating offline malpractice, according to an announcement on the website of the Cyberspace Administration of China on Tuesday. It said some of the services posed a “severe threat to public security”.
The nine messaging tools affected in the first batch of clean-up are lesser known services including Inbilin, Liaoliao, and Metalk. Inbilin, developed by Guangzhou Bilin Online Information and Technology, was a voice messaging and live streaming app that allowed users to connect with random strangers. The company claimed it had 30 million users by 2014, according to an archived version of its website, which is now inaccessible.
The move is part of an ongoing internet crackdown by Beijing to clean up its cyberspace. Under Chinese President Xi Jinping the ruling Communist Party has tightened its grip on the internet and censored content deemed unsuitable, including pornography, gambling, fake news and political dissent – which it calls “negative information”. This drive has been intensified amid the growing popularity of new platforms such as live-streaming, short videos and microblogs.
To create a “clean cyberspace”, China’s internet authorities have shut down thousands of apps and millions of social media accounts, forcing companies to shoulder the task of moderating and censoring content that appears on their own platforms.
On Wednesday Chinese internet major Sina Corp voluntarily suspended its flagship news app and other products after it was summoned by the Beijing Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission for spreading untrue and vulgar information, and being a “bad influence” on public opinion.
In October Chinese authorities ordered Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings to clean up pornographic novels and lowbrow content and shut down offending accounts on its flagship messaging and social media app WeChat, which has over a billion users.