China’s giants in social media are heeding the call from their government to crack down on online gambling even harder by 2020.
Chinese firm Sina Weibo issued a statement on Tuesday recounting its attempts to crack down on illegal gambling through its 2019 microblogging site and outlining its intentions to crack down even harder over the current year.
Weibo said it found more than 6.4 m of illicit gambling advertisements and in just the second half of 2019 closed more than 3 m of illegal gambling accounts. In the final three months of the year Weibo ‘ disposed of’ 360k short ties for gambling and’ vulgar diversions.’
After Weibo revamped its systems and strategies to recognise and remove unauthorised material, the crackdown got more successful. Weibo has promised to redouble its efforts through both automated and manual scanning, and to provide public security authorities with knowledge about any potentially criminal activity.
Weibo’s message came just 24 hours after China’s Public Security Ministry released its own statement calling on all aspects of society to raise awareness of illegal gambling and ensure that no one else is able to do anything that the government does not want them to do.
Weibo’s operation, and that of other major social media outlets in China, will be under greater scrutiny over the coming month as the festivities of the Lunar New Year approach. Recent years have seen an explosion sending hongbao and’ red envelopes’ of digital cash to family and friends to celebrate the holiday of the new year.
These red envelopes have proven to be extremely common since their launch a few years ago–Alibaba’s Taobao ecommerce platform would manage an approximate hongbao RMB2b (US$ 290 m) during the holiday of this year–but creative netizens have also found ways to use the service to coordinate digital gambling pools.
Both the networks and the authorities have done their best to weed out these pools but with literally billions of these digital envelopes flying back and forth between netizens every January, it’s easier to pledge to eradicate illicit activity than doing it.