China is now taking a strong stance against fake news and rumours by intensifying efforts to clean up the internet.
Led by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), it has launched a campaign to combat false information, specifically targeting social media accounts that spread fake news and impersonate state-controlled media.
In the past month alone, over 100,000 online accounts that misrepresented news anchors and media agencies have been closed by the cyberspace regulator. It has also identified and shut down counterfeit news units and news anchors, eliminating a staggering 835,000 pieces of fake news since April 6.
The cyberspace regulator says the campaign's focus is to guide online platforms in protecting the majority of internet users' rights to obtain accurate and reliable news, preventing accounts disguised as authoritative news sources, from creating fake news studio scenes and even using artificial intelligence (AI) to fabricate news presenters which can mislead the public on various topics, including social incidents and international affairs.
But this kind of campaign makes it challenging to find the delicate balance between control and accuracy in China's fight against fake news. While the crackdown on misinformation showcases the nation's commitment to upholding the integrity of online information, the exercise of control over news dissemination raises questions about freedom of expression on social media platforms.
According to a report by Reuters, Chinese social media platforms, like Weibo, already exercise significant control over news dissemination. They reportedly prioritize topic hashtags endorsed by state media while censoring hashtags related to sensitive issues, even if they go viral. It has also regularly ordered sweeping measures to scrub the internet of material and language it deemed inappropriate,