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China's authorities tighten noose around online video content

24 June 2017

SAPPRFT said in their statement that Sina Weibo (a Chinese social media platform), iFeng (the online service of a television station), and ACFUN (a video sharing site) lacked the required license to stream audio and visual content and were "not in line with national audiovisual regulations".

The Financial Times points out that Sina Weibo invested in a video streaming site last November and counts on live stream advertisements to make money.

Independent documentary film-maker Du Bin said the party leadership is very keen to ensure that nothing controversial is posted online ahead of a crucial political meeting later in the year.

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The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television said services operated by companies including Weibo - often called China's Twitter - had been broadcasting negative commentary in violation of government regulations.

The services were ordered to be stopped.

China keeps a close watch over the internet, deleting comments on social media it deems harmful and blocking popular foreign websites including Google and Facebook.

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Beijing has been especially wary of social media since they were used by organizers of the Arab Spring protests that spread across the Middle East in 2010 and led to the downfall of the Egyptian and Tunisian governments. The regulator didn't say what action had been taken, and Weibo declined to comment while it studies the order.

Sin Weibo, which surpassed Twitter in market capitalization earlier this year, lost about US$1 billion (€900 million) in value on the NASDAQ exchange following the move.

In January, the government announced the launch of a 14-month crackdown on cloud-hosting and content-delivery services. The company plans to fully cooperate with the relevant authorities.

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In a statement on its Weibo account, AcFun promised to carry out a "comprehensive rectification" of its website management to create a "clear and bright online environment".

China's authorities tighten noose around online video content