China's Weibo social media site suspends portals after reprimand from internet watchdog

Sina Weibo is suspending key portals such as its hot search site and portal on celebrities for a week. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters, AFP) - China's Sina Weibo was ordered to move several portals offline for a week after spreading obscene and wrongly oriented content, the internet watchdog said.

The campaign is intended not just to stamp out dissent but to ensure that all media "serves the direction of socialism".

The continuing crackdown targets not only explicit depictions of sex and violence, but even rap music, crude cartoons, dirty jokes, celebrity gossip and tattoos.

Sina Weibo has failed to comply, Beijing's Cyberspace Administration said on Saturday on its official WeChat social media account, berating the site for letting users post "content of wrong public opinion orientation, obscenity, low taste and ethnic discrimination".

The company "has violated the country's laws and regulations, led online public opinions to wrong direction and left a very bad influence," it said.

In another case announced on Friday, China's securities watchdog announced it had punished a blogger on WeChat with a 200,000 yuan (S$40,536) fine for posting market-moving "misinformation" about meetings between corporations and regulators.

In a separate statement, Weibo said it accepted the criticism and was suspending key portals such as its hot search site and portal on celebrities and their personal lives for a week.

China shut down as many as 128,000 websites that contained obscene and other "harmful" information in 2017, state media has reported.

A controversial cybersecurity law, which took effect in June last year, has given authorities even more leeway to regulate a wide variety of information.

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