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Various social media platforms have gotten huge fines from Chinese regulators. Pic: photo_master2000/Shutterstock

Chinese social media hit with massive fines for spreading porn and fake news

THREE of China’s biggest social media platforms were hit with the maximum fine allowable under a new cybersecurity law for hosting fake news, pornography and other forms of banned content, Chinese Internet regulators said.

The platforms were owned by Chinese tech giants Tencent Holdings Ltd., Baidu Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., reported The Wall Street Journal.

According to the Administration, Tencent’s WeChat app “failed to fulfill its management duty” to prevent prohibited content being posted by public accounts. Separately, it said search giant Baidu’s Teiba message board and Weibo Corp, partly owned by Alibaba, had also failed to prevent their users from spreading illegal content.

WeChat is one of social media platforms in China that have been punished for promoting pornography, fake news and other forms of banned content. Source: Shutterstock

The Cyberspace Administration of China did not disclose the exact cost of the fines.

However, under Chinese cybersecurity law, network operators can be fined up to CNY500,000 (US$75,000). Furthermore, companies’ licences can be cancelled or suspended.

Tencent has said it “sincerely accepted” the punishment and would improve its management of WeChat according to government guidelines.

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The fines, however, are unlikely to have a big impact on the companies considering their reported profits.  Tencent earned US$21.9 billion in revenue in 2016; Baidu US$10.2 billion; and Weibo US$656 million, according to the Journal.

A formal investigation into the three platforms was launched in August after a preliminary investigation found their users sharing content that regulators said threatened national security and public order.

“The internet is not a land outside the law,” the Cyberspace Administration of China said on Monday, as reported by the Journal.






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