China Shuts Down Crypto Media Accounts on WeChat
China went another step further in its cryptocurrency-related crackdown, as they have now shut down numerous blockchain and cryptocurrency news outlets on popular social app WeChat. At least eight blockchain and cryptocurrency-focused news accounts had been blocked as of Tuesday evening.
In an official statement, the operator of WeChat, Tencent, said that the accounts were permanently shut down because they were “suspected of publishing information related to ICOs [initial coin offerings] and speculations on cryptocurrency trading.” Their decision is backed up by regulations by the Cyberspace Administration of China from earlier this month. Those include that content providers within chat apps have to be compliant with national interests and public orders.
According to local financial news outlet Lanjinger, among the affected were Deepchain, Huobi News, Node Capital-backed Jinse, and CoinDaily. Several of the blocked sites were reportedly among the top 50 most influential blockchain-related accounts on the platform.
Although initial coin offerings are banned in China, that didn’t keep a lot of these accounts from raising significant funds through venture capital funding. Jingse, which claims 350,000 unique daily visitors, raised more than 8 million yuan (USD 1.2 million) from Beijing-based Node Capital in a pre-series A round last August. Shenlian Caijing, another banned name, was founded earlier this year by several veteran Chinese journalists, and raised 10 million yuan (USD 1.46 million) from angel investors.
According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), it is speculated that one reason for this ban was the commentary by People’s Daily, the state-run media outlet in China, which criticized blockchain and cryptocurrency media outlets several times and claimed that these news accounts were helping manipulate the cryptocurrency market. The commentary said, “These ‘media’ outlets have made huge fortune in the speculative waves of cryptocurrencies, but due to their nature, it’s doubtful how long their barbaric growth can keep on going.”
One of the people most notably named in the commentary was Jun Du, the founder and CEO of Huobi, who was said to be “a classic example” of China’s blockchain media ecosystem. People’s Daily is also often considered the voice of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and has called for stricter regulations on blockchain media outlets.
This is also not the first time that WeChat has blocked accounts from the crypto space. In May, they suspended a third-party application called Xiao Xieyi that would have allowed WeChat users to create contract agreements and a unique social media ID using blockchain technology.
Moreover, Beijing’s central Chaoyang district issued a notice on August 17 banning hotels, office buildings and shopping malls in the area from hosting events promoting cryptocurrencies, according to the SCMP.