China to Reporters: Don't Cite Social Media Unless We Say it's Okay

By Features PCmag

These days it's not uncommon for news to break on social media, or for journalists to turn Twitter and Facebook posts into stories. Officials in China, however, do not approve of the practice.

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As reported by the South China Morning Post, the Cyberspace Administration of China says that online news outlets cannot report news taken from social media sites until the government has had a chance to review it for accuracy and legitimacy.

The Post points to state-run Xinhua news outlet, which said that "it is forbidden to use hearsay to create news or use conjecture and imagination to distort facts" in China. The Cyberspace Administration, along with its local divisions, will be charged with analyzing content to ensure it's properly cited and sources are verified by those agencies.

"No website is allowed to report public news without specifying the sources, or report news that quotes untrue origins," the agency said, according to the Post.

While the agency didn't say exactly how it will police content, it did say that news outlets could face severe punishments, though it did not elaborate.

For years, China has censored content within its borders, and blocked US-based social-networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Even Google has tangled with China over censorship. As a result, residents rely largely on services like WeChat and Weibo, though the Chinese have found ways around what is known as the Great Firewall, from VPN services to the dark Web.

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This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.