Tightening its control over popular social platforms and services ahead of its Communist Party Congress in fall, China is “investigating” Weibo, WeChat and Baidu’s Tieba for terror-related content, but also for explicit material, rumors and propaganda.
The country’s Cyberspace Administration is looking at alleged violations of cyber security laws involving three of the most popular social networks. Weibo, WeChat and Tieba are alternatives to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which are blocked in China.
Between the three of them, hundreds of millions of users are actively following each other, carrying out conversations, sharing video and audio files etc. Now, Chinese authorities want an even tighter grip on the content distributed through the three networks, citing security as the key reason.
For its part, Baidu said it regretted the situation but that it would “co-operate with government departments [and] increase the intensity of auditing,” Reuters reports (via the BBC). Statements from the other two services could not be obtained at press time.
Censorship concerns began mounting in July as Chinese regulators were seeking tighter control on Internet traffic.
For the past few weeks, China has been actively surveilling messaging services, most notably disrupting end-to-end (E2E) encrypted apps like WhatsApp and Signal, preventing users from sending photos, videos and voice recordings, and limiting the services to text-only messages it could not decrypt.
Users of social platforms and messaging apps in China are well aware that their government is “covertly” eavesdropping on their discussions, while authorities maintain it is for the good of the people.
Neighboring sharer of communist ideology, Russia has threatened E2E-encrypted messaging service Telegram with closure, should it not comply with the Kremlin’s demands to supply information of potential risk to national security.