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July 5, 2016, 10:24 a.m.
Audience & Social
LINK: chinadigitaltimes.net  ➚   |   Posted by: Laura Hazard Owen   |   July 5, 2016

The Chinese government’s online censor, the Cyberspace Administration of China, declared on July 3 that Chinese websites have to “verify” content from social media before they report on it. The Cyberspace Administration’s statement, translated via Quartz:

All websites must consistently maintain the right propaganda direction. Strict measures must be taken to ensure the truth, comprehensiveness, objectivity, and fairness in news reportage. It is forbidden to pursue timeliness without verifying content on social media platforms before publishing the content as news.

The Notice demands that all websites bear the responsibility of further regulating the procedure of news reporting and publishing, and set up a sound internal monitoring system on internet platforms including mobile news apps, Weibo, and Wechat. It is forbidden to fabricate or omit news sources on websites. It is forbidden to use hearsay to create news or use conjecture and imagination to distort the facts.

The move appears to be an attempt to tamp down on reporting that goes against the Chinese government’s official line, including eyewitness reporting on social media. “It means political control of the media to ensure regime stability,” David Bandurski, editor of the China Media Project at the University of Hong Kong, told The New York Times. “There is nothing at all ambiguous about the language, and it means we have to understand that ‘fake news’ will be stopped on political grounds, even if it is patently true and professionally verifiable. This overarching fact negates any real meaning this C.A.C. notice might have in terms of truly curbing the very real problem of sensationalism and corruption in China’s media.”

In separate actual fact-checking news, First Draft News noted that BuzzFeed Canada editor Craig Silverman is launching a new beat (a good thing to come out of the unfortunate news that BuzzFeed is retreating from Canadian coverage). He’ll be “debunking hoaxes…and acting as a resource for all BuzzFeed editions, as well as a watchdog on behalf of our readers worldwide,” said Scott Lamb, BuzzFeed’s head of international growth.

Silverman told First Draft News:

We have a huge challenge to make debunkings more shareable and more social and make them reach audiences that aren’t already inclined to believe something is not true. That’s the biggest part of this. So it’s taking all I’ve learned at BuzzFeed and all the tools and applying them to make debunkings more social.

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