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Chinese authorities surprise tech platforms with on-site inspections to ensure censorship

New policy.
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Beijing has launched a campaign to crack down on the potential “abuse” of algorithms by the country’s biggest tech companies, including Tencent Holdings and ByteDance. The campaign is enforcement of strict rules that were passed in August, giving the internet watchdog the authority to regulate the use of algorithms by tech companies.

As part of the campaign, the Cyberspace Administration of China will visit tech firms to conduct an on-site inspection. The companies will also be required to submit the services they offer for review.

The rules passed in August and whose enforcement started last month, focus on the use of algorithms to recommend content that is addictive, and content that disrupts social order and endangers national security.

The rules require tech companies to reveal the principles governing their content recommendation algorithms. The companies are also required to offer users an option to turn off algorithm recommendations. The algorithms should also “actively spread positive energy” and promote “mainstream values.”

In compliance with the rules, companies such as Tencent and ByteDance have since made some changes, including offering users a way to opt out of algorithm-based recommendations on their respective apps WeChat and Douyin (China’s TikTok).

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