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China Vows to Kill ‘Zombie’ Online Accounts, Tells Govt Bodies to Clean Up Their Social Media Act

The Chinese government has been tightening regulations on financial news and reining in online bloggers and livestream artists.

Reuters

Updated:December 28, 2018, 10:31 AM IST
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China Vows to Kill ‘Zombie’ Online Accounts, Tells Govt Bodies to Clean Up Their Social Media Act
Representative Image (Reuters)
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Beijing/Shanghai: China's cabinet has warned government departments to clean up their social media image amid a drive to bolster the government's online presence to help reach tech-savvy young people who get their information from smartphones.

The State Council issued the guidelines late on Thursday, saying that authorities' social media presence needed more regulation and vowed to clean up dormant "zombie" accounts and "shocking" comments from official channels. "This has a negative impact on the image and the public trust in the government," the cabinet said on its website.

Government bodies have been pushing into social media as a way to reach younger people, who get most information from platforms like Tencent's messaging app WeChat, microblog platform Weibo or newer services such as news aggregator Toutiao.

The government is also trying to get a tighter grip on the dissemination of information to the public more broadly, and has been tightening regulations on financial news and reining in online bloggers and livestream artists.

The State Council said government accounts "cannot express any personal emotions or opinions, and normally should only repost information from government websites or from sources recognized by government".

Authorities were also forbidden from fabricating social media data or paying for fake followers, it said.

In July, a verified Weibo account of the Yueyang municipal government in Hunan province called a netizen an "environment protection bitch" in a repost responding to concern about a waste incineration plant. It later issued an apology.

Certain official agencies have large followings online, including the Communist Party's Youth League, which has 7.7 million followers on Weibo.

Over the last couple of years government agencies have been expanding beyond Weibo, with forays onto video sites like Bilibili and Bytedance's Douyin, also known as TikTok.
(Get detailed and live results of each and every seat in the Lok Sabha elections and state Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim to know which candidate/party is leading or trailing and to know who has won and who has lost and by what margin. Our one-of-its-kind Election Analytics Centre lets you don a psephologist’s hat and turn into an election expert. Know interesting facts and trivia about the elections and see our informative graphics. Elections = News18)
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