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China suspends Baidu, Sohu news products amid renewed content clampdown

Chinese regulators ordered a one week pause on updates of some products of internet search giants Baidu Inc. and Sohu.com Ltd. as part of the first phase of a six-month campaign to scrub cyber content, the South China Morning Post reported Jan. 3.

Baidu's mobile web and news apps were targeted by the country's cyberspace administration for spreading vulgar content, and the company was reportedly asked to implement a "deeper rectification" of the products. Following the order, Baidu News agreed to bring in changes to help secure the "healthy development of the industry."

Rival Chinese search giant Sohu was also called out for disseminating offensive information and was slapped with a similar ban on updating its content.

The campaign to clean up China's cyberspace, which was announced on Jan. 3. by China's cyberspace administration, follows on from the country's intensified scrutiny on online content last year.

Most recently, authorities decided to monitor the social media accounts of government departments to promote the health and order of new media domains and to establish a better connection with the public.

In November 2018, China's internet watchdog also erased 9,800 social media accounts of independent news providers who posted "sensational, vulgar or politically harmful content" on the internet.

Meanwhile, in September, NYSE-listed news site Phoenix New Media Ltd. was suspended on grounds related to its coverage. The country's National Copyright Administration too, intensified its crackdown on pirated content online with 58 platforms and 3,000 sites added to its monitoring list.