China’s internet watchdog said on Thursday it was determined to “clean up chaos” in short videos, live-streaming services and app algorithms this year, as part of an ongoing crackdown that saw 1.34 billion online accounts closed, 7,200 influencers blocked and 2,160 apps removed last year. The campaign targets issues including bot traffic, live-streaming sessions that attract large tips, teenage influencers, and fake suicides intended to draw attention or lure people into scams, Sheng Ronghua, the deputy head of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), said in a press conference. He said the regulator plans to go after agencies that help influencers gain online traffic on various platforms through questionable methods. The CAC also touted achievements made by internet censors, saying that they worked hard to reduce online “attacks and abuse” against Eileen Gu and Zhu Yi, two US-born athletes who represented China at this year’s Beijing Winter Olympics. The agency will direct internet platforms to establish a computer model to monitor and predict online violence, and add in-app features such as blocking direct messages from unknown accounts, said CAC official Zhang Yongjun. He said the blocking feature – which has already been adopted by short video-sharing app Douyin, China’s version of TikTok – is working well. Zhang added that agents who represent influencers are “related to, or are even the cause” of certain online chaos. He pointed out that some agents tried to bump up page views by fanning emotions, making semi-pornographic content, as well as creating content related to to science, history or international relations that have “misguided values”. China implemented a new regulation this month to rein in the use of algorithms in apps, a technology that is widely used by Big Tech firms such as Alibaba Group Holding, social media and video gaming giant Tencent Holdings, and TikTok owner ByteDance. China’s 315 Gala puts consumer spotlight on live-streaming abuses The rules are partly designed to address “algorithmic discrimination”, where products and services are priced differently for different online users, officials said. While the Chinese government has devoted considerable efforts in censoring internet content that it deems inappropriate, including some rumours and misinformation, it has failed to clamp down on pro-Russia fake news spreading through Chinese state media accounts, such as incorrect reports that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was fleeing Kyiv. The regulator’s attempt to control online content has also increased compliance costs for internet platforms in China, which increasingly rely on user-generated content to attract eyeballs. To meet stringent official requirements, companies are hiring large teams of censors to vet content around the clock. Sheng said the CAC’s efforts will protect the rights of internet users and ensure the healthy development of internet service providers. The CAC first invoked the term “cleaning up the internet” in 2016, two years after the agency’s establishment. The regulator restarted the campaign in 2020, and Sheng announced last year that the watchdog would henceforth conduct the operation annually. scussions.