China works to rein in online comment threads

Many of the top websites in China have agreed to better regulate their online comment sections

Porn, rumors, and anti-government content are all being targeted in China's latest push to filter online public expression.

At the Chinese government's request, 29 publications and companies in the country signed a pledge on Thursday to better regulate the online comment threads found on their websites.

State-controlled news groups such as Xinhua News Agency, and the People's Daily have signed on, but also local Internet companies including Baidu, Tencent and Sina, which run their own news portals.

The pledge, which was posted by Xinhua, asks that the comment sections be regulated to produce a "civilized" and "high quality " exchange of views, while also observing Chinese laws.

Under the pledge, websites will require that all users wanting to comment first register by providing official identification. Topics banned from discussion include anything that opposes China's constitution, harms national security, or fans ethnic discrimination.

Salacious information, personal threats, and comments spreading rumors or acting as advertisements are also prohibited. In addition, users are only permitted to comment in the language the original post was made in.

To carry out the measures, the websites can warn, block the post, and temporarily ban the user from the website. Users suspected of breaking the law can be reported to the relevant government offices.

No foreign companies were asked to sign the pledge. But many popular U.S. news sites have been blocked in the country, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, along with Facebook and Twitter.

Websites operating in the country are already required to follow its strict rules on censorship. This can often take the form of a site pulling down controversial news or blocking searches related to the event on orders from authorities.

But Thursday's pledge shows that China wants to go one step further in controlling the content on news websites. One of the more popular news portals, NetEase, which also signed the pledge, receives tens of thousands of comments on its top articles each day.

"To follow the Internet regulations, we must not only closely regulate the source of the news and its production," said Chinese official Ren Xianliang on Thursday's pledge, according to Xinhua. "But we also pay great attention to how its circulation is guided and maintained."

China has the world's biggest online population at over 600 million users. But the government has always tried to contain the Internet's ability to spread anti-government information, and other content it deems to be "unhealthy." At times, authorities have even jailed Chinese Internet users for posting online rumors, or issued news rules to rein in other products including social networking sites and messaging apps.

Last year, the Chinese official Ren said that the country had to regulate the Internet even more due to the user growth. Although China has gained an infamous reputation for its online censorship, government officials view it as maintaining stability while still protecting users' free speech..

"Our work in managing this has to catch up. We are specifically targeting social media, and we are forming the specific systems and laws to regulate it," Ren said at the time.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags governmentsocial mediaregulationinternetbaiduInternet-based applications and servicesTencentXinhua News Agency

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?