Cyberspace Regulator in China’s Capital Cracks Down on Celebrity Muckrakers
(Beijing) — The Cyberspace Administration of Beijing has ordered internet companies to close dozens of social media accounts owned by paparazzi reporters and groups that report celebrity news — the latest clampdown affecting content creators and internet service providers.
On Thursday, the city’s cybersecurity watchdog met with representatives from internet firms with major operations in the Chinese capital and ordered them to “take effective measures to clamp down on celebrity news deemed vulgar and ostentatious,” state broadcaster China Central Television reported. Those summoned included executives from Sina Corp., the owner of the Twitter-like Weibo; search giant Biadu Inc.; and Tencent Holdings Ltd., which operates WeChat, the country’s most popular messaging app.
Sixty different accounts were ordered closed, though many are duplicates run by the same individual or group.
The order was issued in accordance with the country’s cybersecurity law, which took effect on June 1. The law requires internet service providers to tighten scrutiny over content uploaded by users for possible violations of laws and government regulations, the authority said.
The law prohibits individuals or groups from publishing defamatory content or engaging in any online activity that can infringe upon others’ privacy, intellectual property rights or other rights.
Among the accounts taken down from Weibo and websites owned by Tencent and Baidu were several operated by Zhuo Wei — the pen name of Han Bingjiang, who internet users have dubbed the “No. 1 paparazzi reporter in China.”
Han’s account on Weibo had over 8 million followers before it was taken down on Thursday.
A former journalist with the mainstream Beijing News, Han is known for several sensational exposés and breaking news on celebrities’ extramarital affairs, romantic trysts and breakups. These included a rekindled relationship in 2014 between singer and actress Faye Wong, a mainland diva, and Hong Kong heartthrob Nicholas Tse, 11 years after the pair’s high-profile breakup.
The city’s cyberspace administration didn’t say whether Han or other account holders would be punished.
The order is the latest in a string of measures taken by the country’s cybersecurity authority that targets internet service providers over online content that the authority deems inappropriate.
In early May, the Cyberspace Administration of China, the state cybersecurity watchdog, ordered five major web portals operated by internet companies, including Tencent and Sina, to stop live streams of news feeds, saying it violated the country’s 2005 News Information Service Regulations.
Contact reporter Li Rongde (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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