Popular App WeChat Bans Cryptocurrency News Media Accounts

WeChat, a messaging, social media and financial services app owned by Tencent Holdings Limited, has shut down the accounts of various cryptocurrency and blockchain media companies on its platform. Also, a district in China has released a notice banning crypto-related communications and prohibiting commercial venues from hosting cryptocurrency promotion activities.

Details of the Ban

On Tuesday, August 21, 2018, WeChat shutdown the accounts of at least eight Bitcoin and cryptocurrency media accounts on its platform. Those affected include Jinse Caijing, Huobi News, and Coindaily.

The accounts were reportedly shut down because they are suspected of publishing information on ICOs and spreading speculation of digital currency trading.

It is also believed that the recently-enacted Temporary Regulations on the Development and Management of Public Information Services for Instant Messaging Tool issued by the Cyberspace Administration of China on August 7 is a major factor in this recent development.

That piece of legistlation reads in part (rough translation):

“The users of instant messaging tools serving in public information service activities shall abide by relevant laws and regulations. For instant messaging service users who violate the agreement, the instant messaging service provider shall take measures such as warning, restriction, suspension, and closure until the account is closed, meanwhile saving the relevant records and fulfilling the obligation to report to the relevant authority.”

The activities of cryptocurrency news outlets in China have come under fire before now. In March, The People’s Daily, a state-run media outlet, published a commentary criticizing crypto news outlets of releasing articles aimed at manipulating the cryptocurrency market and promoting ICO projects.

China’s Continued Cryptocurrency Crackdown

These developments—WeChat’s ban of crypto-news accounts and the prohibition against public cryptocurrency-related promotional activities—are the latest in China’s continued crackdown on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which began in September 2017 with the ban of cryptocurrency exchanges and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

Since then, state officials have adopted strict measures to stifle any meaningful form of cryptocurrency commerce in mainland China. Even in Hong Kong, some cryptocurrency exchange platforms have experienced run-ins with local authorities as the Chinese government seeks to enforce its blanket ban on virtual currencies.

In a related development, Chaoyang District in China’s capital city of Beijing issued a notice earlier in the month banning commercial venues including hotels, shopping malls and office buildings from hosting cryptocurrency-promotion activities. The notice was issued after a foreign cryptocurrency exchange company organized a local event in the district.

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