China initiates nationwide campaign against forums providing misinformation News
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China initiates nationwide campaign against forums providing misinformation

The Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee joined ten government departments on Saturday to issue a notice titled “Notice of Special Cleaning and Correction of Forum Activities” to action an overhaul the internet and eliminate misinformation and tamps down counterfeit forums. The government stated there are too many organizations in the country holding forums that are misleading. The action aims to reduce the number of these forums to restore market order, social stability and to protect people’s legal rights.

The notice listed six kinds of activities that are the targets of this clear-up, including but not limited to:

  1. counterfeit summits that falsely claim themselves official;
  2. unlawful events featuring evaluation, achievement of target and commendation;
  3. gatherings that falsely promote the attendance of government officials or scholars;
  4. gatherings that misnamed themselves with “China”, “Chinese”, “nationwide”, “international”, “forums”, “summits”;
  5. meaningless, formalistic gatherings that are ultra vires to the organization
  6. gatherings that are a façade to corruption.

The notice will particularly focus on activities that may collect fees irregularly or involve payments

Prior to this, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC)  solicited comments on Friday from the public on the draft “Regulations on the Management of Online Violence and Hate Speech (Draft for Comment)“.  The draft proposes that online service providers shall have a duty to manage the online community and obliges providers to monitor messages on their platforms by strengthening their management of accounts. The providers must take action to screen out insults, defamation, privacy infringement or other internet violence. The law also prohibits providers creating platforms that enable anonymous posting and harmful content-oriented topic sections and group accounts.

There are a series of administrative and legal actions, taken by the Chinese government this year, to overhaul the Internet. Starting in March this year, the CAC has launched a project to remove online self-media that provides misinformation. In two-month time, the CAC has removed 1.41 million unlawful messages and punished 927 thousand unlawful accounts, including a permanent ban of 66 thousand accounts. These accounts were alleged to have involved the dissemination of misinformation, disinformation and harmful messages. Accounts that misrepresented official departments and state media were also the targets. In June, the CAC also passed the Provisions on Administrative Law Enforcement Procedures for Internet Information Content Management. The law provides powers to departments under the CAC to enforce administrative punishment for unlawful acts on the Internet.