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China cyberspace watchdog to tighten grip on social media comments

China cyberspace watchdog to tighten grip on social media comments

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China’s cyberspace watchdog is planning to review every social media comment under its newly proposed regulation released on 17 June 2022, drawing concerns over the freedom of speech in the country, said SCMP.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the country’s internet watchdog, published the draft rules on 17 June 2022, which direct platforms to hire a content moderation team, “commensurate with the scale of the service”, to inspect all user comments and possibly filter inappropriate ones before they go public. The comments that fall into the scope of inspection include original posts, replies and real-time comments that appear on top of a video, known as “bullet chats”.

The proposed law also specifies that the real identity information of registered users shall be verified, and commenting services shall not be provided to users without having confirmed their real identity information.

According to the drafted regulations, social media commenting services providers should also provide a static version of the content displayed on a "barrage" post when necessary. They should also establish and improve information security management systems such as reviewing every social media comment, conducting real-time inspections and providing emergency responses. The content of post comments should be reviewed prior to being published, any illegal content should be discovered and handled in a timely manner, and reported to the Internet Information Department.

In terms of public account producers and operators, they shall perform the responsibility for self-management of the content of social media comments, as well as strengthening the review management of social media accounts. They should also report any illegal and inappropriate content of social media comments in time, and take necessary measures.

Public account operators may apply to social media commenting service providers to obtain independent management rights such as reporting, deleting illegal contents, and voluntarily closing the account’s commenting function, with the support from the relevant commenting services providers.

Two weeks ago, the Cyberspace Administration of China revised rules governing mobile apps and their distributing platforms, which will take effect from 1 August 2022.   According to the statement on its website, the regulations established by the authority prohibit mobile app providers and distribution platforms to use apps to conduct activities that endanger national security, disrupt social order, and infringe on the legitimate rights and interests of others. Apps with functions that could possibly influence public opinion will need to seek security inspection.

As for registration of users, mobile app providers shall conduct identity verifications based on users’ mobile numbers, ID numbers, or unified social credit codes. Users who do not provide real identity information, or fraudulently use the identity information of organisations and others for false registration, shall not be offered relevant services.  App providers who provide online news information services through applications shall obtain an “online news information service license”, and are prohibited from conducting related activities without permission or beyond the scope of the license.

(Photo courtesy: ShutterStock)

Related articles:

China cyberspace watchdog revises rules governing mobile apps
China looks to crack down on cyberspace activities with bad influence


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