China launches special campaign to improve online environment during Spring Festival
Published: Jan 29, 2024 11:32 PM
Photo: CFP

Photo: VCG

China's top internet regulator announced on Monday the launch of a one-month special campaign to address prominent issues on domestic online platforms, so as to create a positive and healthy online atmosphere for the upcoming Spring Festival.

According to the Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission (CAC), the campaign targets six typical problems, rectifying prominent issues in the overall internet environment that have been strongly reflected by the people on popular social platforms.

The CAC listed acts of violating public order and good customs, such as publishing misleading travel guides that entice netizens to visit scenic spots with safety hazards or illegally enter restricted areas, taking advantage of the Spring Festival travel peak period.

According to media reports, a college student from Nanjing in East China's Jiangsu Province entered Nanjing West railway station to take photos on January 11 and was struck by a high-voltage electric arc when he climbed to the top of the carriage, resulting in severe burns all over his body, after seeing a "guide" on the internet that said the station had been abandoned.

Other examples include vulgar and self-harming live streaming PKs, self-directed and acted bizarre videos that violate public order and good customs, as well as the disguised release of information on excessive and abnormal eating, causing food waste and harm to health.

The second problem that the CAC aims to rectify is the dissemination of online anger and incitement of group confrontation, such as using topics related to film and television works during the Spring Festival, as well as stars or internet celebrities to provoke online quarrels, insults, and artificially boost ratings or control comments, inciting a sense of opposition.

Actions that link traditional customs of the Spring Festival with regional or occupational characteristics, stigmatize specific groups, and exploit hot topics during the holiday period by creating vulgar and tasteless jokes through pinyin, homophones, and pronouns will also be rectified, according to the CAC.

Examples of fabricating false information and malicious marketing include fabricating content using forms such as year-end summaries and home-returning experiences, or spreading rumors related to public policies, social livelihood, transportation, etc. It also includes creating fictional plots of conflicts between husband and wife, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, and teacher and student to gain attention and convey negative values.

In addition, the CAC will crack down on disguised online gambling activities, including the dissemination of illegal information related to gambling through forms such as QR codes and special characters.

Actions such as online scams under the guise of "red envelope subsidies," or "collecting likes to win tickets," will also be rectified, as well as using the excuse of renting a boyfriend (girlfriend) to go home for the Chinese New Year or finding travel companions to attract participants for offline illegal activities.

The internet regulator will crack down on the deliberate display of negative content such as flaunting wealth and extravagant spending under the guise of Spring Festival customs. Examples of such problem also include the unrestrained hype of star's gossip, inducing vote manipulation, as well as promoting and profiting from online fortune-telling and divination services that exploit superstitions.

The final issue to be addressed is the harm to the physical and mental health of minors, such as exploiting child internet celebrities for illegal profits, publishing vulgar content through stationery or anime derivative works, and providing features that induce addiction among minors, especially rural left-behind children.

According to the CAC, local offices should address the aforementioned issues based on regional realities, and any illegal websites, platforms, or accounts that have been investigated should be promptly disclosed to the public.

During the Spring Festival in 2023, there were instances of certain online accounts using popular movies as a pretext to manipulate and incite fan groups of celebrities into engaging in mutual online attacks and comment control. In response, the CAC cleared more than 31,000 pieces of illegal information and took action against over 8,500 groups and accounts.

Global Times