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China shutters 110 porn websites as part of ‘cleaning the web’ exercise

MUMBAI: As a part of its new ‘Cleaning the Web 2014’ campaign, the Chinese authorities have shut down close to 110 porn websites and purged over 3,300 accounts on social media sites to clean up the internet.

The National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications’ campaign, which will run till end of the year, has also seen a crackdown on Wechat, Tencent Holdings Ltd’s social messaging app, apart from over 7,000 advertisements and 200,000 texts with pornographic content.

The campaign was launched in response to the spread of online pornography despite repeated bans, according to a circular issued by the National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications.

“Pornography does great harm to minors and the social ethos,” read a circular issued by the National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications at the start of the campaign. The campaign is in response to the persistent spread of online pornography despite multiple previous crackdowns, it said.

Set to last till November, the campaign comes after a crackdown on Wechat, Tencent Holdings Ltd’s social messaging app, which has had dozens of widely read accounts run by outspoken columnists shut down.

It also follows a move last year to purge online rumour-mongering, widely seen as a tool to punish critics of the ruling Communist Party, which has chilled political disclosure especially on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.

Sina Corp, a major Chinese web portal, temporarily shut down its entire online reading section shortly after the campaign was launched, because ‘works containing inappropriate content have appeared’, the company said in a statement on one of its Weibo microblogs.