January 20, 2015 / 10:09 AM / in 3 years

China's Tencent shuts down 133 WeChat accounts for 'distorting history': Xinhua

BEIJING (Reuters) - Tencent Holdings Ltd, China’s biggest social networking firm, has shut down 133 accounts on its hugely popular mobile messaging app for “distorting history”, state media said on Tuesday, citing a government internet authority.

A picture illustration shows a WeChat app icon in Beijing, December 5, 2013. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic

The WeChat accounts, including one whose name translates as “This is not history”, spread “fabricated information” and confused the public, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC).

The censored accounts “were against laws and regulations”, “disobeyed socialist core values” and “severely disturbed the online order”.

Tencent declined to provide immediate comment.

China’s CAC, helmed by internet czar Lu Wei, has presided over sharp increase in state-mandated censorship and a campaign to “cleanse” the internet.

China operates the world’s most sophisticated internet censorship mechanism, known as the Great Firewall. Censors maintain a tight grip on what can and can’t be published online, especially anything seen to undermine the ruling Communist Party.

China is now taking steps to promote its vision of a clean, controlled and choreographed internet to other countries.

On Monday, Tencent apologized for rewarding WeChat app users who sent a message with the English phrase “civil rights” with a screen full of fluttering U.S. flags.

The CAC said last week it had closed 50 websites and social media accounts for violations ranging from pornography to “publishing political news without a permit”.

In September, Xinhua said the cyberspace watchdog had closed nearly 1.8 million accounts on social networking and instant messaging services since launching an anti-pornography campaign earlier in the year.

Reporting by Paul Carsten; Editing by Nick Macfie

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