An inherent problem of popularity on the Chinese internet is that the censors pay much closer attention. On March 13th Tencent’s social media service Weixin, or WeChat, provided the latest proof of this axiom. At least a dozen popular public WeChat accounts – some followed by hundreds of thousands subscribers – were shut down or suspended yesterday.
China Business News and Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post said some of the accounts closed were run by widely-read columnists like investigative journalist Luo Changping, some of which have hundreds of thousands of subscribers.
The accounts displayed a notice that said they were blocked after other users reported the accounts were violating rules, without providing details. China Digital Times, a website based in Berkeley, Calif., that monitors technological developments in China, has compiled a list of more than three dozen accounts that were blocked.
Some pointed out online that the closures came on the final day of the annual session of the National People’s Congress, or legislature, while others linked them to rumours about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which had 153 Chinese passengers on board.
WeChat’s public instant-messaging accounts have became a popular venue for discussing political issues in recent months as more established online social networks, like Sina Weibo, lost subscribers. The China Internet Information Centre said 37 per cent of users who quit weibo last year started using WeChat, which is run by internet giant Tencent.
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