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China Cleans Up the Internet by Squelching Dissent

Checking smartphones in Beijing's Tiananmen Square
Checking smartphones in Beijing's Tiananmen SquarePhotograph by Andy Wong/AP Photo

It’s understandable that authorities want to control the nastier parts of the Internet, including spam, porn, online scams, and such deadly stuff as terrorist recruiting. Still, it almost always seems as if China’s online cleanup campaigns have an additional target: squelching dissent.

Yesterday, China’s State Internet Information Office, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and the Ministry of Public Security jointly announced the launch of a campaign against spreading “rumors” and harmful information through chat groups on instant messaging services such as Tencent’s WeChat.