China’s absolute control over its media has claimed an unlikely victim — the paparazzi.
Typically, the country’s censorship agency is most active in culling any content that my contradict the government’s political agenda.
But on Thursday, the Cyberspace Administration of China issued a notice listing several social media accounts that it deactivated. These included 19 different paparazzi and entertainment news outlets.
Beijing News reported that the sites’ various online properties across micro-blogging portal Weibo, and news aggregators Baidu and Toutiao, were gone.
The government said that these accounts violated wording in Chinese latest revision of its cyber laws released last week, which stipulate that online content should not violate a party’s privacy, or damage their reputation.
“Vulgar” paparazzi news
An administration spokesperson also noted that the clampdown was aimed at “spreading socialist core values and providing for a good mainstream discursive environment,” reported China News.
The agency urged website operators to strengthen community management and stop “vulgar” paparazzi news from spreading.
People online registered mixed reactions:
“I want to say — these accounts are just a mirror, those who report the facts aren’t vulgar, but the celebrities who did vulgar stuff are the dirty ones.”
“Screw you — how has Zhuo Wei (a notable paparazzo) have the right to intrude on other people’s privacy? When celebs don’t draw their curtains and you take pictures, are you testing the law? Does (Zhuo) have the legal right to watch over others?”
“There’s still many accounts that aren’t in the list and I hope you get rid of all of them. The online environment really needs to be cleaned up, step by step. I believe things will get better.”
These social media reactions were deleted
Some comments on the matter have also been censored, according to FreeWeibo.com, a service that collects posts that have been removed (some by the administration) on Weibo.
Many of the censored posts centred around the issue of freedom of speech — a hot button topic for China, which exercises an iron grip over what people say:
“What makes you think that (the government) couldn’t delete accounts from people who disagree (with its opinions) — or worse, take away your money and your life?”
“You can deactivate accounts, but Sina (Weibo’s owner) and other companies have to do so independently. They have the right to regulate their own space, but government departments don’t.
Weibo said in a statement that the entertainment accounts had disappeared, because they were posting “defamatory information” and “spreading rumours.”
“The fanbase of various stars and celebrities make up an important part of the Weibo community,” the platform said. “This community and platform doesn’t need a hasty, unsustainable growth, but needs to reject vulgar and ugly rumours and slander.
“As a social media network, we hope that other content creation platforms adjust their strategies.”
(h/t South China Morning Post)