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China Intensifies Social-Media Crackdown

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JOSH CHIN AND PAUL MOZUR
Wall Street Journal
September 20, 2013

BEIJING—A forceful campaign of intimidation against China’s most influential Internet users has cast a chill over public debate in the country and called into question the long-term viability of its most vibrant social-media platform.

In an offensive that some critics have likened to the political purges of the Mao era, Beijing has recently detained or interrogated several high-profile social-media figures, issued warnings to others to watch what they say and expanded criminal laws to make it easier to prosecute people for their online activity—all part of what one top propaganda official described on Tuesday as “the purification of the online environment.”

State media have reported more than two dozen detentions on charges of spreading rumors and related offenses since China’s newest generation of leaders officially took power in March. Authorities have launched similar antirumor campaigns in the past, but the difference with the current campaign is its focus on high-profile figures.

The crackdown has touched some of the biggest personalities on Sina Corp.’s popular Weibo microblogging service, perhaps most notably Charles Xue, a Chinese-American venture capitalist with more than 12 million followers on the site.

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This article was posted: Friday, September 20, 2013 at 4:31 am





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