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China to intensify control of social media

Chinese officials seek to "intensify" control over social media outlets online, and the heads of the country's largest tech companies support it, according to a new report.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor on

Chinese officials seek to "intensify" control over social media outlets online, and the heads of the country's largest tech companies support it, according to a Reuters report.

State news agency Xinhua reported that 10 top executives -- from Alibaba's Jack Ma to Baidu's Robin Li -- pledged to "stop the spread of harmful information" on the Internet after a three-day summit in Beijing.

The companies said they agree to "safeguard the broadcasting of positive messages online," according to the report -- fighting rumor, pornography, fraud and "harmful information."

I won't rehash some of the problems with this approach; if you want to dive down this hole (and it's a good one), our own Violet Blue has tackled this topic nicely. But it's fascinating, and perhaps unsurprising, that the country that worked so hard to lock down the World Wide Web is now moving to take control over the myriad social media channels that have proliferated in recent years and threaten the country's censorship schemes.

A daunting task, but that's why China is enlisting its biggest tech companies to do the dirty work, in the form of "tracking surveillance."

Will it work, or will China forever engage in a game of whack-a-mole? It's unclear, but the effects of globalization have clearly not ben influential enough to convince the country's officials to open up.

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