By Bernard Orr and Eduardo Baptista
(Reuters) – China has stepped up its efforts to rid the internet of fake news and rumours, shutting down more than 100,000 online accounts in the past month that misrepresented news anchors and media agencies, the regulator said of cyberspace.
The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) launched a special campaign to clean up information online, focusing on social media accounts that spread “fake news” and masquerade as state-controlled media outlets.
The regulator said it had cleared 107,000 accounts of fake news units and news anchors and 835,000 fake news information since April 6.
The cleanup comes as China and countries around the world grapple with an onslaught of fake news online, with many implementing laws to punish wrongdoers.
However, the spread of news on Chinese social media is already tightly controlled, with platforms such as the Twitter-like Weibo favoring topical hashtags produced by state media, while censoring hashtags on issues or incidents deemed sensitive by Beijing. considered even if they go viral.
The CAC said its review found accounts masquerading as authoritative news outlets by faking scenes in news studios and impersonating professional news presenters, using artificial intelligence (AI) to create anchors to mislead the public.
Fake news identified hot topics such as social incidents and international current affairs, according to a statement the CAC posted on its website Monday.
“(The CAC) will guide online platforms … to protect the legitimate rights and interests of the majority of Internet users to obtain authoritative and genuine news,” the regulator said, adding that it encouraged users to provide guidance on fake news and anchors.
The Chinese government has regularly ordered sweeping action to rid the internet of material and language it deems inappropriate, offensive and threatening to the public and businesses.
Recently, the CAC pledged to crack down on malicious online comments that damage the reputation of businesses and entrepreneurs.
Nascent generative AI technology like ChatGPT has introduced a new layer of caution. China recently arrested a man in Gansu province for allegedly using ChatGPT to generate a fake train accident story.
(Reporting by Bernard Orr; additional reporting by Ethan Wang; editing by Jamie Freed)