Authorities have ordered a “comprehensive overhaul” of Pear Video, a video platform that posted a clip of an overturned car in front of Tiananmen square on Friday. Two have also been detained for posting information online about the incident.

On Saturday evening, the Beijing office of China’s internet regulator issued an order for Pear Video to make unspecified changes. Hong Kong media speculated that the crackdown on Pear Video was related to a clip it posted on Weibo of smoke billowing from an overturned Jeep in front of Tiananmen square.

Two people were also detained for “fabricating and intentionally transmitting false information about terrorism” after posting information about the car accident online, Beijing police said on Saturday.

YouTube video

The video, posted on microblogging site Weibo via short video app Miaopai, was removed that same day, according to censored posts available via FreeWeibo and Weiboscope. The Beijing traffic police issued notices on its Weibo account on the same day saying it was a car accident and urging citizens not to spread rumours.

The video platform “distributed so-called ‘exclusive’ political news content” without a license to publish original news content, broadcast and circulate video, the notice said, adding that it must cease its illegal activities immediately and undergo a comprehensive overhaul. It did not specifically mention which content violated the rules.

Pear Video is described on its official website as “China’s leading short news information video platform.” It uses its app and Weibo account to distribute short news clips to mobile users.

The order was issued by the Beijing Cyberspace Administration, the Beijing Public Security Bureau, and the city’s Cultural Law Enforcement Agency upon receiving reports from the public, the notice said, adding that staff from the three official bodies visited Pear Video to conduct a joint inspection.

pear video
A deleted Weibo post from an account belonging to Pear Video. Photos: Weibo, screenshot from video.

Government rules restrict online publications from publishing news stories based on original reporting. In July, several large news operations were ordered to shut down or “clean up” many of their online news features.

Authorities announced new regulations on the sharing of unofficial news videos online in December, banning public accounts from sharing videos not from official sources on social media.

Pear Video was founded by Qiu Bing, the former CEO of state-funded new media outlet The Paper, in September 2016.

The company did not immediately respond to HKFP’s request for comment.

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.