Chinese authorities have ordered a one week hiatus on Baidu and Sohu updating some of their online products as the two internet majors find themselves targeted in the first phase of a six-month government campaign to clean up the country’s “cyber ecology”.
Beijing’s internet regulator said on Thursday that it had called on Baidu, operator of China’s largest internet search engine, to carry out “deeper rectification” after some of the company’s online products, including its mobile web and news apps, were found to be spreading vulgar content, thus damaging the country’s “cyber public opinion ecology”. The ban was effective from 3pm on Thursday.
Baidu News, the official platform for Baidu’s news product, said in a Weibo posting that it will follow the instructions of the authorities and make improvements to promote the “healthy development of the industry”.
A similar ban on updating content was imposed at the same time on rival internet search engine Sohu, which was also accused of spreading vulgar content.
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On Thursday China’s cyberspace administration announced the launch of a six-month cyberspace clean-up campaign to police information that is deemed “negative and harmful” amid the government’s tightening control over China’s internet, which boasts the world’s largest online population of 800 million.
Under Chinese president Xi Jinping the ruling Communist Party has tightened its grip on the internet, with even moderately critical voiced now silenced, after a relatively vibrant political environment began to emerge on social media platforms including microblogs.