WeChat, Weibo and Baidu Tieba investigated for violation of cyber security laws


On August 11, while the Chinese public attention is focusing on the powerful quake that struck Sichuan and Xinjiang, China's internet regulator - the Cyberspace Administration of China - announced that it's investigating China's top three internet giants for potentially violating the Cybersecurity Law.

Shares of Naspers fell more than 3 percent to four-week lows on Friday after China launched an investigation into its top social media sites, including the South African media company's subsidiary Tencent's WeChat.

The notice suggests the investigations were prompted by "reports made by web users" (language not uncommon in the enforcement of online controls), and that the three platforms "host content including violence, fabrication and rumor, obscenity and pornography, and other information shared by users that harms national security, public safety and social order".

The timeline of the case has not yet been revealed but any subsequent progress will be announced by the CAC's branches in Beijing and Guangdong, where the three companies are based.

Baidu, one of the companies being investigated, said it regretted the facilitation of illegal content on its Tieba platform and explained that it'll "actively cooperate with government departments to rectify the issue and increase the intensity of auditing".

Tencent, which owns Weibo and WeChat, has not released any comment yet regarding this report.

China's cyberspace watchdog has ordered a crackdown on what it calls "hazards to national security" on social media websites in an effort to tighten controls on the spread of news ahead of the country's Communist Party Congress later this year.

Shares of Hong Kong-listed Tencent, in which Napers owns 33 percent, fell nearly 5 percent.

Prior to that meeting, Weibo was requested to close part of its video site due to violations, wiping away over $1.3 billion in stock between Weibo and its parent Sina Corp.

In recent months, regulators have taken severe and unprecedented action to shutter content and media across a variety of platforms.