Chinese social media giant WeChat has reportedly closed down accounts owned by several cryptocurrency and blockchain media accounts on its platform, local news outlet Lanjinger reports.
The Tencent-owned company indicated in a statement that it had carried out the sudden purge in line with the central government’s cryptocurrency policy.
Beginning on Tuesday, August 21, 2018, WeChat began implementing a sudden shutdown of no fewer than eight accounts linked to Bitcoin and crypto news organizations. Some of affected platforms include Huobi News, Coindaily and Jinse Caijing.
One of the main accounts that have been closed is that of Bitmain. The official sales channel of Bitcoin mining giant Bitmain, which has the WeChat ID “antminersale,” appeared to have been blocked on Monday. By the time of going to press, searching for content previously distributed by the account leads to a page that says it has violated relevant rules.
The notice states:
Following users’ complaints, the platform [WeChat] has reviewed and discovered that this account – without having acquired authorized credentials or licenses – has been publishing and distributing information of relevant businesses it is involved in.
Tencent later confirmed the development in a statement, where it said the platforms were shut down in line with the regulatory policy. The statement read:
The closed accounts were suspected of publishing information about ICOs [Initial Coin Offerings] and speculations on cryptocurrency trading.
CoinDesk reports that although the statement did not explicitly reference a specific government policy that necessitated the account removals, an ordinance from early August by the Cyberspace Administration of China referred to as ‘Temporary Regulations on the Development and Management of Public Information Services for Instant Messaging’, may well be responsible for the unexpected move.
Pattern of Restriction
Account closures and censorship are quite common in China, which has some of the most stringent cryptocurrency-related regulatory policies in the world.
Over the past year, the Chinese government has banned organizations and infrastructure linked to cryptocurrency trading, driving crypto exchanges underground or away from Mainland China to Hong Kong and other friendlier jurisdictions, such as Malta.
China’s state-owned People’s Daily newspaper, which often functions as an official mouthpiece of the government, published an editorial in March 2018 attacking crypto news outlets for publishing material allegedly aimed at promoting ICO investments and crypto trading in China.
Despite the the restrictive measures and laws on cryptos, China still remains the home of blockchain technology. Blockchain exploration in the country is in full swing, as the government and major companies are looking to implement it across various processes and leverage the efficiency gains offered by it. WeChat has been testing blockchain for inducing efficiency and accuracy in employee expense reimbursement. China Aerospace is reportedly developing a blockchain invoice system to augment its existing electronic invoice system and enable enhanced traceability and accuracy of records.
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