Judicial System

Self-media accounts rule announced

Updated: Jul 11, 2023 By Cao Yin China Daily Print
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Cyberspace authorities push for stricter management of publishers

Self-media accounts, particularly non-institutional content publishers on platforms such as WeChat and Weibo, are facing stricter management, and operators should be more disciplined if they want to continue posting information online, according to a recent notification.

Self-media accounts are those that publish news or information but are not operated or approved by the government.

The notification was issued by the Cyberspace Administration of China, the country's top internet regulator, on Wednesday, and published on its website on Monday.

The administration announced 13 requirements that all websites and platforms nationwide must meet and urged them to strengthen their management of self-media accounts to maintain order in cyberspace.

It states in the notification that websites and platforms should review registered accounts and those with name changes to protect official accounts from fraud.

"If the posted information contains names or logos of the Party and government agencies, military organs, news media or administrative departments, related accounts must be reviewed manually," it said.

"Stricter reviews need to be conducted on self-media accounts concerning finance, education, healthcare and justice, and introductions on the qualifications and professional backgrounds of the content publishers should also be annotated on these accounts' homepages," it added.

While requiring self-media accounts to publish the sources of content involving domestic and foreign affairs, policies or social issues, it also clarifies that publishers should not take words out of context, nor distort facts by means such as patchwork editing.

If rumors related to policies, people's livelihood or public emergencies are discovered, websites and platforms must mark them in a timely manner and take advantage of algorithms to reduce the spread of untrue content, it said.

"Self-media accounts will be shut down, blacklisted and reported to cyberspace departments if they are found to have produced rumors, stirred up the public or spread illegal or harmful information," it added.

In addition, cyberspace departments across the country have been instructed to conduct stronger supervision and guidance on websites and platforms, especially those involved with news, livestreaming and short videos, according to the notification.

The release of the notification was not the first time that the administration had focused on the management of self-media accounts.

With the rapid development of the internet, everyone has the right to open accounts to share ideas and post articles, but some content has been found to be improper or even illegal, potentially promoting disorder in cyberspace and misleading the public, the authority said.

Therefore, it has stepped up efforts in recent years to advance the governance of self-media accounts to purify the online environment.

In March, the administration ordered major internet platforms to punish self-media accounts that are operating illegally or spreading rumors. Data released by the administration showed that as of May 22, more than 1.41 million pieces of improper information have been removed, with over 66,600 accounts shut down.

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