In another move to censor and control the media, the Cyberspace Administration of China has moved to crack down on news reports that use information on social media. The Chinese government says this is an attempt to stop the spread of false news, but it’s could certainly be seen as another move by the government to control public opinion.
According to The New York Times, the Cyberspace Administration of China issued a statement saying “[i]t is strictly forbidden for websites not to specify or to falsify news sources and to use hearsay to create news or use conjecture and imagination to distort the facts, and that they plan to punish more news outlets and websites that “directly as news reports unverified content found on online platforms such as social media”.
And according to the South China Morning Post, online outlets must get approval from the government before reporting news found on social media. The Cyberspace Administration statement said that the agency had punished multiple Chinese news websites, but didn’t give any details about how exactly these outlets were punished.
Here are three examples of stories deemed to be “untrue” by the Chinese Government, according to the NYT:
• The decay of moral standards in villages in northeastern China.
• Arson on a bus in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province.
• A girl from Shanghai flees from a Lunar New Year dinner at her boyfriend’s family home in the south because of appalling living conditions.
Clearly these reports all share a common theme, one that the Chinese Government would rather its people not see.