China’s Communist Party has tightened up on the state’s tacit ties to social media in the past two years as part of efforts to root out “social parasites.”
The party “has prioritized the elimination of corruption and targeted social security fraud and financial crimes,” said Amy Liu, co-founder of the social media monitoring firm Kaspersky Lab China, as she discussed the challenge of monitoring what the Chinese authorities are saying online, as well as who is engaging in online “schemes.”
The efforts come as China’s Internet continues to undergo immense growth, with foreign companies increasingly operating in the country. Facebook and Twitter have been blocked on Chinese government servers for several years, and Instagram, Vine and YouTube still remain behind. Both social networks continue to trade freely on the gray market, however.
But as the number of Chinese Internet users explodes, with the Communist Party hoping to corral the much larger number of digital natives, the government is cracking down on online dissent, activists and “online schemes.”
“You’re seeing a much more targeted, execution-style approach,” said Lin Yue, an analyst who works for Datamonitor in Beijing. It’s “not one click at a time.”