China to crackdown on online dissent, users to face action for ‘like’ on ‘inappropriate’ posts

China is planning to tighten its control over social media by targeting users who are hitting “like” on inappropriate social media posts after it faced massive criticism online over the government’s zero-COVID policy. The government authorities have been already empowered to restrict posts and comments on social media.

New directives have been issued by the Cyberspace Administration of China which came into effect on Thursday and impose restrictions on dian zan (like).

The new rules are part of an update of cyberspace regulations dating back to October 2017, after the government enacted the Chinese Cybersecurity Law.

Social media posts receiving thousands of likes carry the potential of influencing opinion  online. The authorities said that posts and comments now need to be closely examined by social media companies.

They added that the authorities need to promptly remove inappropriate or illegal posts and remarks. Work has already been started by the Chinese lawmakers on the Cybersecurity Law’s amendment.

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Tougher penalties will be faced by companies for violation of cyberspace rules. As per the amendment’s draft, operators of “critical information infrastructure” can be asked to pay a fine of 5% on the revenue earned in the previous year if any services or products are used by them that have not been subjected to security scrutiny.

Till recent times, the government of China firmly stood on its stance of maintaining a zero-COVID policy throughout the country. The social media posts against the COVID policies ignited a nationwide protest, which is rarely seen in the country.

(With inputs from agencies)

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