China is stepping up its efforts to rein in the country’s internet, singling out Tencent Holdings’ popular news app for spreading vulgar information while shutting down more than 700 websites and thousands of apps in the span of just three weeks.

The Cyberspace Administration of China has scrubbed the web of more than 7 million items since January 3, deleting more than 9,300 smartphone apps to screen out information deemed inappropriate or harmful, the watchdog said in a notice distributed to media.

Tencent’s Tian Tian Kuai Bao, which means “quick daily news”, was singled out for spreading “vulgar and lowbrow content that was harmful and damaging to the internet ecosystem”, the agency said.

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China’s cyber police take aim at ‘negative information’ in new internet crackdown

The latest raft of shutdowns, part of a six-month campaign intended to eradicate “vulgarity” from the domestic internet, stands out for its scale and speed.

Baidu and Sohu.com were ordered to suspend a plethora of news services just weeks ago.

Beijing has increasingly taken a hard line as the country’s internet ecosystem flourishes, instigating crackdowns on video games and social media that have hurt industry leaders such as WeChat operator Tencent and the word’s largest start-up, ByteDance.

Chinese internet giant Tencent tightens control of WeChat content amid industry–wide clampdown

Those represent the most severe digital crackdown in the country’s history, shuttering services or temporarily forcing them from app stores for spreading everything from crude jokes to banned information.

Tencent and other websites have been ordered to overhaul their operations, the watchdog said in its notice without elaborating. The Shenzhen-based internet giant’s shares fell 0.8 per cent in Hong Kong.

Tencent said it could not immediately comment.





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