Beijing shuts down thousands of websites in online pornography purge

State media reports that thousands of websites and social media accounts containing obscene material have been shutdown

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The Independent Online

The Chinese government has shut down thousands of websites and social media sites in a bid to purge the internet of online pornography, it was revealed today.

The nation’s state media services announced the progress of its ‘Cleaning the Web 2014’ campaign today, which has resulted in the closure of 110 websites and more than 3,300 accounts containing ‘obscene’ material since January.

Online pornography is illegal in China and the latest drive, to last until November, follows repeated attempts to censor sites displaying the material.

An unidentified spokesman for the official Xinhau state agency said: “Disseminating pornographic information online severely harms the physical and mental health of minors, and seriously corrupts social ethos”.

But overseas critics have expressed concern about the crackdown, which they say represents the latest attempt by the government to inflict broader censorship of websites.

Recently, the government has closed social messaging networks run by outspoken communists. And last year, the state attempted to purge the spread of online rumours in a move seen as a tool to punish critics of the ruling Communist Party.

Only last week, a Beijing court sentenced a man to three years in prison for spreading rumours on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.

Additional reporting by Reuters