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Regulators in China are cracking down on news outlets that source content from social media in what it is painting as an effort to dampen the reporting of rumors and other non-factual information.
According to the Cyberspace Administration of China, it is now forbidden to use hearsay to create news or use conjecture and imagination to distort the fact. In other words, online media isn’t allowed to report news without specifying the sources or report news that quotes untrue origins.
The changes come just days after Xu Lin replaced Lu Wei as the deputy head of the organization. Lin is said to be one of President Xi Jinping’s key supports according to the South China Morning Post.
The administration has reportedly ordered its regional subordinates to strengthen supervision and inspection of news sites and severely punish those who publish fake news.
A number of popular news portals including Caijing.com.cn, Sina.com, Ifeng.com, Qq.com and 163.com are said to have been warned and punished. Specific details on punishments, however, weren’t published.
As Ars Technica notes, it remains to be seen just how strictly the new rules will be enforced. It’s entirely possible that the warnings are just for show in order to scare sites from publishing certain material. More than likely, however, the rules are yet another oppressive attempt by China to control its people.
Image courtesy karen roach, Shutterstock