China closes dozens of social media accounts in cleanup drive

Chinese Internet authorities closed 25 more social media accounts on Thursday, one day after 19 Sina Weibo accounts, most of which focused on celebrity gossip, were shut off as part of efforts to uphold socialist values and clean up the Internet environment.
 
Thursday’s closed social media accounts include popular WeChat accounts including “Dushe Movie”, literally meaning “poison tongue”, which focuses on sharing information and providing incisive review on trending movies, and “Yansubagua” meaning “serious gossip” which is praised by many young Chinese as having “right values on some social issues.”
 
It is reported that “Dushe Movie” has garnered around 2 million followers, and is valued at 300 million yuan ($44 million) after its first major round of financing.
 
The clean-up began after the Beijing Cyberspace Administration told operators of several websites including Sina Weibo, Jinri Toutiao, Youku and Baidu were told on Wednesday that they should fulfill their duties, spread socialist core values and create healthy public opinion environment.
 
The websites were also instructed to take measures to contain the hyping of celebrity scandals and lifestyles.
 
Later, Sina Weibo announced that it had closed 19 "vulgar" celebrity gossip microblogs, saying "the creation and existence of vulgar celebrity content is, to a considerable degree, the result of fierce competition between different platforms."
 
The closed “vulgar” accounts include China’s No.1 Paparazzo Zhuo Wei and I Am Paparazzi who have attracted millions of followers on Weibo by revealing information about celebrity gossips and private lives.
 
Zhuo is famous for revealing scandals of Chinese celebrities, and became famous in 2014 after revealing the extramarital affair of Chinese TV star Wen Zhang and Yao Di. In April this year, Zhuo also hit the headlines after his team alleged that Chinese actress Bai Baihe was cheating on her husband, singer Chen Yufan. But the couple announced that they had quietly divorced two years ago.
 
Chinese cyber authorities’ cleanup move also came after the implementation of China's first Cyber Security Law which stipulates that any person and organization using networks shall not disseminate violent, obscene or sexual information; create or disseminate false information to disrupt economic or social order; and infringe on the reputation, privacy, intellectual property or other lawful rights and interests of others.
 
On Thursday, state-owned People’s Daily ran a commentary saying that the shutdown of the “gossip” social media accounts is the “triumph of positive energy over negative energy” and “the shutting off the accounts does not amount to banning entertainment, but letting people think about how to get entertainment head to the right path.”
 
However, many web users, especially fans of closed accounts, reacted angrily on social media, saying that “it looks more like a triumph of power.”
 
“It is true that hyping of gossips should be regulated, but what are the standards after all? Does that mean that everything which is not regarded as ‘positive energy’ will be eliminated?” one said on Weibo.
 
"Now it seems the entertainment crowd can brazenly and shamelessly go about their shady business, the only one who could keep them in check has been blocked," Reuters cited one Weibo user who said of Zhuo as saying.


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