BEIJING, May 27 -- The Chinese government started a month-long campaign to eliminate malpractice on instant messaging services like WeChat on Tuesday.
While such services have become popular online communication channels, some people have used them to distribute illegal and harmful information, seriously undermining public interests and order in cyberspace, said a statement from the State Internet Information Office (SIIO).
The campaign will target public accounts on instant messaging services, which can spread information on a large scale and mobilize followers, according to the statement.
WeChat has more than 800 million users. Besides private accounts used for communication among friends, family and acquaintances, many public accounts are owned by organizations, companies or individuals for mass communication.
The campaign will crack down on those spreading rumors and information relating to violence, terrorism and pornography, as well as those using instant messaging for fraud.
"We will firmly fight against infiltration from hostile forces at home and abroad," the statement said.
The SIIO, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and Ministry of Public Security are in charge of the campaign, which will hold service providers responsible if they do not fulfill their duty.
The authorities also encourage the public to provide tip-offs through emails, phone calls or the website net.china.com.cn, the statement added.
Seven instant messaging companies, including WeChat, Momo, Mi Talk and Yixin, have agreed to cooperate with the authorities and launch internal inspection, said a statement issued after a meeting among the three government departments and service providers.
The seven companies also announced an initiative calling the industry to fulfill their social responsibilities.
They called on all instant messaging companies to abide by law and stop providing the means to spread vile information.
Instant messaging companies should work with the government to fight prostitution, fraud and blackmarket on their applications, the announcement said.
They should also introduce practice to identify and clear rumors on their applications, it added.