China Vows Crackdown On Netizens For ‘Liking’ Posts After Anti-Lockdown Covid Protests: Report


New Delhi: Internet users in China will soon be held accountable for liking posts that are deemed harmful or illegal. This has raised concerns that the world’s second-largest economy intends to exert unprecedented control over social media, according to a report by CNN Business.

Amid growing public anger against the country’s stringent Covid restrictions, China’s internet watchdog is increasing its cyberspace regulation as authorities intensify their crackdown on online dissent, CNN reported.

As part of a new set of guidelines released earlier this month by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the new rules take effect on December 15. The CAC is governed by the President Xi Jinping-led Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission.

According to CNN, the new regulations, which have garnered attention in recent days on social media, will go into effect just a few weeks after the nation began experiencing an unprecedented uptick in public ire.

According to the report, thousands of protesters called for political freedoms and demanded an end to the country’s draconian Covid restrictions over the weekend in more than a dozen cities, ranging from Beijing to Shanghai.

While authorities attempt to rid the internet of dissent, internet users are preserving protest-related content by taking screenshots and using coded references in messages to evade censorship.

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The regulation is a revised version of one that was published in 2017 and was updated. It states for the first time that public post “likes” and other types of comments must be controlled. Every comment that is posted under a public account must also be carefully reviewed.

“Liking something that is illegal shows that there is popular support for the issue being raised. Too many likes ‘can start a prairie fire’,” said David Zweig, professor emeritus at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, referring to a Chinese expression about how a single spark can start a far larger blaze.

“The threats to the [Chinese Communist Party] come from an ability to communicate across cities. The authorities must have been really spooked when so many people in so many cities came out at the same time,” he added, CNN reported.

However, the content that would be considered harmful or illegal was not defined in detail in the rules.


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