China’s Cyberspace Administration is cracking down on fake online news from social networks, it said in a statement on Sunday.

A notice issued by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) “demands all websites to ensure the truthfulness, comprehensiveness, objectivity, and fairness of news reports, banning the blind pursuit of speed and the direct publication of unverified content from social networks and other online platforms as news reports.”

China cyberspace administration
The Cyberspace Administration of China’s website. Photo: Screenshot.

The regulator called for websites to further standardise publishing procedures for their news apps, Weibo and WeChat platforms, as well as establish internal checking mechanisms. It banned sites from not stating or falsely stating their sources, as well as from “creating news based on hearsay and using guesswork and imagination to distort the facts.”

Portals like Sina, iFeng, Caijing, Tencent, and NetEase have already been warned and punished, said the CAC. The websites involved have disposed of public accounts responsible for the false information, according to state-run radio station China Radio International.

china cyberspace social media
The offending meal from the fake story. Photo: The Paper.

The CAC listed stories with negative influences on society as specific incidences of false news they had targeted over the past year. The list included a fake story about a New Year’s dinner that scared a girl away from the impoverished home of her boyfriend’s family in Jiangxi.

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.