Date
23 August 2017
China is tightening control on instant messaging services in a bid to contain the spread of 'harmful' information. Photo: Bloomberg
China is tightening control on instant messaging services in a bid to contain the spread of 'harmful' information. Photo: Bloomberg

China tightens rules on instant messaging tools

China has announced a real-name registration system for all public accounts on instant messaging services as part of efforts to tighten the scrutiny on online platforms, state media reported.

The State Internet Information Office unveiled on Thursday ten rules related to instant messaging services. The rules require, among other things, all users of instant messaging apps to register with real names. Also, only authorized media outlets and websites will be allowed to use their public accounts to disseminate political news, according to Xinhua news agency.

Service providers must verify and publicly mark accounts that can publish or reprint political news.

Instant messaging service users are required to sign an agreement with the service provider when they register, promising “to comply with the law, the socialist system, the national interest, citizens’ legal rights, public order, social moral customs, and authenticity of information”.

Internet giant Tencent, which owns the popular messaging app WeChat, said “the main aim of the rules is to resist the spread of harmful information like rumours… Tencent supports this aim.” 

“We urge everyone to respect the relevant laws,” the firm said, according to the BBC.

Tencent announced earlier this year a major clean-up of public accounts. In the six months to June, the company is said to have frozen 3.65 million accounts on WeChat after tip-off from users, and shut down 30,000 public fake accounts.

Tencent has also tied up with the police in fighting crime. In the first half this year, the firm helped police to crack down on more than 10 gangster groups, according to a report.

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RC

Freelance journalist

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