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Mobile Browser Crackdown Ensnares Big Names

By Heather Mowbray / Oct 27, 2020 05:51 PM / Politics & Law

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Browsers operated by some of China’s biggest internet names were caught up in a crackdown by the cyberspace regulator, which requested them to be swept clean of “rumor-mongering,” “sensational headlines” and material that violates the “core values of socialism” by Nov. 9.

The initial targets of the campaign are browsers operated by Huawei Technologies, Alibaba Group Holding’s UCWeb, Xiaomi Corp., Tencent’s QQ, Qihoo-owned 360, Oppo and Sogou. The Cyberspace Administration of China’s campaign has become a topic of huge interest on social media, attracting millions of views and comments on Weibo.

Most mobile phone manufacturers have expanded beyond hardware to capitalize on powerful user bases for software. Built-in phone browsers have become an important point of contact, which has led producers to launch streaming services to further interact with their customers.

According to the CAC, browsers gather and amplify the dissemination of chaos by “self-media,” which have been accused of publishing news in violation of regulations, pushing information via pop-up windows, giving stories gimmicky titles, hyping up sensitive topics, making up information, rehashing old news, and posting vulgar and negative material.

An investigation by Southern Metropolis Daily in July 2019 into 10 popular mobile browsers revealed that advertising content was “a minefield of false information,” and readers were regularly diverted to online lending platforms and gambling sites. Pornographic content was regularly displayed in pop-up windows, a source of social media users’ complaints when learning of the latest crackdown. One popular comment on Weibo was, “Why wasn’t Baidu on the list?”

By Tuesday, Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo had issued self-inspection and rectification announcements on their homepages.

Editor: Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related: China’s New Cyber Rules Tells Website Operators to Showcase Politically Acceptable Content


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