Major social media platform operators including Weibo, WeChat, Youku, Baidu and Netease shut down a large number of social media entertainment news outlets after a June 7 meeting with Beijing’s Office of Cyberspace Affairs.
The crackdown has been justified under China’s newly implemented Cybersecurity Law, which emphasises ideological control as a core component of maintaining state security.
More than 60 outlets have been shuttered in less than a week, some of which are commercial news outlets funded by private capital investments, while others are entertainment sections of newspapers such as “Entertainment weekly of Southern Metropolis”. Other examples include “Care about gossip association”, which has a market value of up to RMB 100 million (approximately US $15 million) and “Movie Lambaste” with a market value of up to RMB 300 millions (approximately US $40 million dollars).
According to a report from state-run Xinhua news, Beijing’s Office of Cyberspace Affairs cited China’s Cybersecurity Law, enacted on June 1 2017, as impetus for the crackdown. They implored content platform operators to enforce the law:
Individuals and organisations cannot infringe on other people’s reputation, privacy, intellectual properties and other rights using the Internet. Operators should reinforce the management of their users and the distribution of user content. Once [the operators] find that information has violated related laws and administrative rules, they have to stop transmitting the information, eliminate the sources and prevent the information from spreading. The record should be preserved and reported back to the authorities.
China’s Cybersecurity Law went into effect despite deep concerns about the powers that it gives to law enforcement to obtain sensitive information, including encryption keys, from network operators. The law has also triggered major concerns among foreign companies, over its requirement that local data be stored within China.