China closes 100,000 fake news social media accounts and ramps up content cleanup

China has stepped up efforts to clean up false news and rumors on the Internet, shutting down more than 100,000 online accounts in the past month that misrepresented top news and media outlets, its cyberspace regulator said.

China’s Cyberspace Authority (CAC) has launched a special online cleanup campaign, focusing on social media accounts that spread “fake news” and pose as state-controlled media.

The regulator said it had removed 107,000 accounts of fake news blocks and news anchors since April 6, as well as 835,000 fake news items.

The cleanup comes as China and countries around the world grapple with the onslaught of fake news on the internet, with many laws enacted to punish those responsible.

However, the distribution of news on Chinese social media is already under tight control, with platforms like the Twitter-like Weibo favoring themed hashtags created by state media and censoring hashtags on issues or incidents that Beijing considers sensitive, even if they go viral. .

The CAC said the audit found accounts masquerading as established media outlets, faking news studio scenes and imitating professional news anchors, using artificial intelligence (AI) to create anchors to mislead the public.

According to the CAC statement posted on its website on Monday, the fake news identified was about hot topics such as social incidents and current international events.

“(CAC) will guide online platforms … to protect the legitimate rights and interests of the majority of Internet users in receiving authoritative and real news,” the regulator said, adding that it encourages users to provide information about fake news and anchors.

The Chinese government regularly takes drastic measures to clean up the Internet of content and language that it considers inappropriate, offensive, and a threat to society and business.

The CAC recently pledged to crack down on malicious online comments that damage the reputation of businesses and entrepreneurs.

A nascent generative AI technology like ChatGPT has introduced another layer of caution. China recently arrested a man in Gansu province for allegedly using ChatGPT to create a fake train crash story.

© 2023 Thomson Reuters.