China’s social media platforms Baidu and Weibo have joined the Chinese government’s campaign to strengthen online censorship before next months’ Communist Party Congress, when China’s top government officials will be elected.
On Wednesday, Chinese Internet search giant Baidu announced that it had launched a program to identify and dispel online rumors. Created under the guidance of the Online Security Bureau of Ministry of Public Security and Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, the program employs big data, natural language processing and artificial intelligence technology to gather suspicious online information. It will then forward that information to more than 600 institutions around the nation, including academic institutions, relevant experts and media to be vetted. Information about rumor will also be shared with 372 registered police agencies around the country.
If deemed false, the company will help these agencies write notices and stories contradicting the rumors and send them to target audiences. Baidu will also warn Internet users about search results that include suspicious information. The company said it aims to quash 100 rumors daily.
On the same day, social media company Weibo Corp. posted a message on its official account that it was recruiting 1000 Weibo online community monitors. The company said: "To tighten scrutiny of online users and to fight with harmful information such as Pornography and illegal information, Weibo has set up community monitors system under the guidance of Cyberspace Administration of Beijing to recruit 1000 monitors."
In compensation for reporting inappropriate information, the monitors will receive RMB200 worth of free data usage and free Weibo membership. They are required to report at least 200 pieces of information monthly. Monitors who reports the most cases will be given prizes such as smart phones and laptops.
The news comes after reports earlier in the week that China’s top three social media platforms Tencent, Baidu and Weibo were fined by the Cyberspace Administration of China for failing to block fake news, pornography and other forms of banned content Monday.
Also on Monday, US based internet platform WhatsApp was fully blocked in China. Starting in July, WhatsApp users were no longer able to send photos and videos in China. WhatsApp is the latest foreign social media banned in China after Facebook and Instagram were blocked.
Earlier this month, China Money Network reported that China’s Cyberspace Administration issued new rules tightening control over WeChat groups and other such digital platforms.