China has urged the country’s most popular microblog Weibo to clean up pornographic material on its social networking site in the latest attempt by authorities to regulate online content. Weibo Corp, owned by Sina Corp and in which Alibaba holds a stake, has a huge number of accounts that contain pornographic material, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said in a statement on Thursday on its website.
Some account holders have been sharing obscene videos and pictures, as well as soliciting prostitution and distributing other illegal information via the microblog, the CAC said. The administration wants Weibo to rectify these issues by removing or blocking content on its microblog.
“If reform falls short of requirements, or if illegal activity continues in the reform period, this regulator will strictly implement heavy punishment according to law,” CAC said.
The Chinese authorities can block content themselves but the sheer volume in such a populous country means they need social networking sites to self-censor. Citing its potential to destabilise society, or in the case of pornography, damage mental health, censors have periodically tried to exert greater control over the Internet and social media apps.
In April last year, CAC said it would punish Sina after users complained about the site for spreading rumours, terror, obscenity and pornography on it site. At the time, a Sina representative said Sina would target the problems, strengthen its internal oversight and carry out its services in strict accordance with the law.