While Facebook readies emergency measures to halt the spread of viral election day misinformation, contributing to a bout of social media hysteria that is starting to feel vaguely reminiscent of the perturbation that preceded Y2K, the censors over in Beijing are as busy as ever.

Reuters reports that China’s “top cyber authority” has declared that it will carry out a “rectification” of China’s mobile internet browsers. The campaign is a response to concerns about “chaos” in terms of information being shared online.

Doesn’t sound too different from what’s happening over at Twitter and Facebook. But we digress.

Anyway, the Cyberspace Administration of China, or CAC – the regulator in question – has told mobile browser owners that they have until Nov. 9 to finish a “self examination” (sounds fun) and rectify any previously unaddressed “problems.”

Some suspect that President Trump’s attacks on China, combined with the pro-independence party that continues to rule Taiwan and the pro-democracy protests that preceded a wave of street violence in Hong Kong last year, may push President Xi to drastic action to assert China’s dominance once and for all. If accurate, than this would be only the latest example of China cracking down on what has been an unprecedented year for that, with all that has happened in Hong Kong.

But circling back to the mainland, browsers will need to upgrade their censorship tools surrounding sensationalist headlines and “rumors” spread online. We wonder how they plan on accomplishing all this?

“For some time, mobile browsers have grown in an uncivilised way…and have become a gathering place and amplifier for dissemination of chaos by ‘self-media’,” the CAC said, referring to independently operated social media accounts, many of which publish news.

“After the rectification, mobile browsers that still have outstanding problems will be dealt with strictly according to laws and regulations until related businesses are banned.”

The campaign is focusing on eight of the most widely-used mobile browsers in China, including those operated by Huawei, Alibaba’s UCWeb and Xiaomi, also a major smartphone manufacturer. Others include the QQ platform owned by Tencent, Qihoo-owned 360, Oppo and Sogou.

It’s just the latest reminder that economic engagement in China hasn’t improved political freedoms in China one bit since Mao Zedong’s death.



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