SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s largest social media platforms including Weibo and Douyin said they have deleted tens of thousands of posts for abusing athletes and spreading rumours on the Winter Olympics, in an effort to clean-up “illegal” chatter around the Games,
Chinese authorities stringently censor any content that they believe violates “core socialist values” and in recent months have ordered its tech companies to further crack down on online chatter or content pertaining to rumours or what could be considered vulgar.
Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, has since Feb. 6 taken action against roughly 2,300 user accounts and deleted over 73,000 posts that were offensive to athletes or “illegal”, based on Reuters calculations on multiple statements posted on its official “Weibo administrator” account.
Douyin, the Chinese equivalent of short video app TikTok, said on Wednesday it had intercepted or cleaned up 6,780 related videos or comments and banned 331 user accounts. Other platforms such as social networking forum Douban and video sharing site Bilibili also put out similar statements on their efforts.
The Winter Olympics, which runs from Feb. 4-20, has been front and centre of social media discussion in the country since they begun.
While Chinese netizens have heaped praise on athletes such as Eileen Gu and Su Yiming, criticism has been aimed at the likes of Zhu Yi, the figure skater who gave up American citizenship in 2018 to compete for China after she fell during her Olympic programmes.
“There are always winners and losers in competitive sports, but anyone who fights for it is a true hero. This platform urges everyone not to sarcastically attack athletes because of accidental mistakes,” Weibo said on Wednesday.
The platform said on Wednesday it deleted 41,473 posts and suspended 850 accounts over such behaviour. That compares to its report on Sunday, when it said it deleted 421 posts and suspended 93 accounts.
(Reporting by Brenda Goh and Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Michael Perry)