New rule reins in China’s flourishing self-publishing space – TechCrunch

Despite China’s history of tight media control, the unconstitutional industry, individual publishers have thrived on social media platforms such as Tencent’s WeChat and ByteDance’s Toutiao. These self-publishers are called “We Media” in the Chinese Internet lexicon, reflecting the independent power of citizen journalists and content creators.

Meanwhile, self-publishers always have to tread carefully what they consider illegal or inappropriate to post targeted or risked by sensors.

They are subjects that range from fashion and food to politics and current affairs. WeChat, a major destination for self-publishers, hinted last July 20 million “public accounts”Platform to broadcast content to individuals and, in the case of businesses, reach customers. In 2020, 360 million users read articles published on WeChat’s public accounts, WeChat founder Alan Zhang Revealed Recently.

Sina Weibo has long attracted citizen journalists on China’s Twitter. In the early days of COVID-19, millions of Chinese users attacked Weibo, asking for facts from accounts such as Fang Feng, A writer who chronicled his experience in Wuhan.

Now, a new development in China’s Internet regulation is going to restrict China’s tens of millions of self-publishers.

According to the new accounts “public news providing online news service to the public will receive Internet Information Information Permit and other related media” Regulation (translation here) Published on January 22 by China’s Cyberspace Administration, the country’s Internet watchdog.

In the following days, WeChat, Baidu, Sohu and other online information services began informing publishers of the new rule. “If your account lacks relevant recognition, you are advised not to edit, report, publish or comment on news about politics, economy, military, foreign affairs or other major events.” Notice Sent by WeChat.

“The WeChat public account platform is always committed to providing users with a green, healthy online environment,” adds the message.

The need for news recognition will likely be a death knell for independent social media publishers who have taken on journalistic roles, particularly those covering politics. A WeChat account publisher told TechCrunch, “Unless you can easily get into an official news outlet or organization with unmatched resources and background, this is nothing.”

Avoiding sensitive topics, such as US-China relations, is always the norm, but the red line is slightly different on each platform, which is a self-publisher focused on finance. “Sometimes you have to try it yourself,” the person said.

China’s control over news reaches every corner of the Internet, and rules are always playing catchup with the speed at which new media, such as the colloquial and live streamingThrives

From 2017 To 2018, The Cyberspace Authority granted news permits to a total of 761 “Internet news services” that operated 743 websites, 563 apps, 119 forums, 23 blogs, 3 microblogs, 2285 public accounts, an instant messenger and 13 live streaming services. . In other words, hard news is the limit for Internet services of these categories that operate without any news license. It remains to be seen how platform operators like WeChat and Sina Weibo work to enforce the rules.

The ability to dominate online information may occur when it is confronted with misinformation. The new regulation has also called for operators to set up a manufacturer like a blacklist to root out fake news. But overall regulation may adversely affect freedom of expression in China, the International Federation of Journalists Warned off.

The IFJ said, “The new rule has come at a time when ‘self-media’ has gained huge popularity in China and journalists have started using platforms that were published by their organizations to do the work.” Said In a statement published on 28 January.