24 October 2016
Sina's Weibo is one of China's most popular social media platforms. Photo: Bloomberg
Sina's Weibo is one of China's most popular social media platforms. Photo: Bloomberg

China threatens to close Sina news services for lax censorship

China’s top internet regulator threatened to shut down the news services of Sina Corp. for inadequate censorship and spreading false information, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Cyberspace Administration of China said in a statement on its website that officials met Friday with senior executives from Beijing-based Sina about complaints received by authorities from internet users regarding problematic content on its platforms.

Sina, which is listed on Nasdaq in New York, operates an internet portal and the popular microblog service

The regulator, which is in charge of managing the country’s internet, has led China’s efforts to exercise greater control over the country’s 649 million online users.

The statement said since the start of the year, 6,038 complaints against Sina were made, including 1,227 in just the first eight days of this month, which was more than any other major website had received.

Complaints centered on the spreading of rumors, information related to violent terrorism, obscenity, pornography, fraud or the propagating of heresy, the statement said.

In China, heresy generally refers to religious groups that aren’t approved by Beijing, such as the Falun Gong.

Sina had “distorted news facts, violated morality and engaged in media hype”, the statement said.

The regulator also said Sina wasn’t adequately censoring its users accounts and had at times rushed to spread false information.

The officials asked Sina to rectify the situation, failing which it could be subjected to severe punishment, including the suspension of its online news services.

The statement said Sina’s representatives pledged to strengthen censorship and strictly offer its services in accordance with the law, while working to spread “positive energy” as it “conscientiously bears the social responsibility of internet media”.

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