Call it censorship — or the removal of coarse content. Or: “official-looking” accounts that do not actually belong to the Chinese government (or were unauthorised in the first place!).
50 WeChat public accounts were recently shut down, as reported by Qianlong.com, citing the official Chinese National Internet Office. A note: most of us who just got onboard the WeChat bandwagon have personal accounts — but you have to apply separately for a public account. (ID checks are serious: You must take a picture of you holding your ID document!)
Reasons why they were shut down included the following…
- Porn: Always an obvious reason for these accounts to get nixed.
- Gambling and scams: Other obvious reasons to get accounts cancelled.
- Impersonation: This is where it’s interesting. If you merely “blinked”, you’d have imagined they killed the official account of the CPC mouthpiece, People’s Daily! Wrong: The third Chinese character used in the impostor account is just ever so minutely different — 曰 versus 日 (with the latter the “legit” character for the official People’s Daily account). Minute impersonations like these “tricked” subscribers. Also canned were fake accounts purporting to belong to Wang Qishan’s discipline inspection teams.
- Unauthorised news sites: Under Chinese law, China-hosted websites need a licence to host or post “hard news”, which mainly include “news and politics”. (Tech might not be that “hard” hitting.)
The Chinese authorities have hinted they will continue cracking down on these illegal services. There’s also a way to be a “good comrade” and report violations: the 12377.cn site will gladly take complaints.