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China cracks down on messaging apps

Mobile messaging apps face increased scrutiny as the Chinese government alleges they are being used to spread political dissent.
By Ananth Baliga   |   Aug. 7, 2014 at 12:39 PM   |   Comments

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BEIJING, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- The Chinese government is cracking down on messaging apps like WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk, limiting which users and organizations can publish political news.

China is restricting the spread of news on these apps as they are increasingly being used to transmit dissent against the government, according to the Xinhua News Agency. Apps like WeChat have "public accounts" where scholars, celebrities and businesses can send their messages to a wide audience.

The government will allow only news agencies and organizations with prior approval to publish what officials approve as political news on these "public accounts."

"All other public accounts that have not been approved cannot release or reprint political news," the regulations said.

China has accused users of spreading information about terrorism, violence, and pornography, messages they said can raise "bitter feelings among netizens." Regulators have been asked to limit the usage rights of these accounts, suspend them or shut them down completely.

"The regulation will promote the quality of instant messaging services to ensure that citizens enjoy the convenience of such services. This is the true freedom of speech," China's State Internet Information Office told Xinhua.

China stepped up its regulations on messaging apps by blocking foreign apps, including Japan's Line and South Korea's KakaoTalk. Other messaging apps targeted include Alibaba's Laiwang, NetEase's Yixin, and Xiaomi's Miliao.

Follow @antbaliga and @UPI on Twitter.
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