China closes popular WeChat accounts

March 14
8:03 AM 2014

Authorities in China have closed dozens of well-known accounts of the popular social messaging app of Tencent Holdings Ltd in its efforts to regulate the Internet, Reuters reported citing reports from Chinese media.

According to reports from the China Business News and South China Morning Post, one of the WeChat accounts closed was that of Luo Changping, an investigative journalist. The reports also said that the accounts of other well-known columnists, some of whom have followers that number to the hundreds of thousands, were also shuttered. The newspapers revealed that the accounts were closed on Thursday, March 13, 2014.

As a response to the reports, Tencent said they had pledged to fight against content that contained pornography, rumors and violence. The Reuters report quoted Tencent Spokesman Jerry Huang as saying, "As part of the commitment to providing quality user experience on Weixin in China, we continually review and take measures on suspicious cases of spam, violent, pornographic and illegal content." He added that they are also open to users informing them about these types of content through their online platform or their hotline which is open for 24 hours, the report said.

In one of its official microblogs, Tencent said if any content appeared that was against its rules, they would "strike hard and deal with it." In just one year, the monthly active users of WeChat around the world went up to 272 million in September last year from the September 2012 figure of 121 million, the report said.

This was not the first time that Chinese authorities cracked down on WeChat. Last year, users were prevented from transmitting message that had the characters for "Southern Weekly," a newspaper in Guangdong that had openly expressed its revolt against press control. Rights organizations and protesters said the closure of the WeChat accounts was initiated by China's Communist Party to contain criticism hurled against it and curtail freedom of expression, the report said.

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