China’s top tech firms Baidu Inc. (NASDAQ: BIDU), Tencent Holdings Ltd., Weibo Corp. (NASDAQ: WB) and others were fined for failing to properly censor online content as the country is enhancing their censorship and security efforts ahead of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party which is a major leadership conference held once every five years.
The firms were fined for failing to remove fake news, pornography, and content that incites ethic tension and threatens social order. The people in charge of the platforms and others directly involved will face a penalty of 100,000 yuan ($15,110) each. Offending platforms can also have their licenses revoked and their services suspended for failing to comply.
Last month, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) launched an investigation that targeted the country’s most popular social media services including Weibo’s microblogging service and Tencent’s WeChat. Earlier this month, the CAC introduced new regulations that require messaging apps to create credit scores that can be lowered to punish and restrict users who post offensive content as well as making users legally liable for content that is illegal. The tech firms will be required to take many steps to remove illegal content and accounts as well as increase content auditing measures.