A number of blockchain news and media accounts on WeChat became inaccessible on the evening of August 21. The Tencent WeChat team released a statement next day saying that the accounts have been permanently banned and their content removed due to a violation of government provisions.
In its statement, the WeChat team clarified that the accounts violated “Interim Provisions on the Administration of the Development of Public Information Services Provided through Instant Messaging Tools” published by the Cyberspace Administration of China. The violations mainly involve spreading information related to initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrency speculation.
Over 10 different WeChat public accounts by blockchain news and media platforms are involved in this incident. They include accounts by Jinse.com, Huobi, Bishijie, and TokenClub.
The message displayed after clicking on these WeChat accounts reads: “Due to user reports and verified by the platform, there exist violations of ‘Interim Provisions on the Administration of the Development of Public Information Services Provided through Instant Messaging Tools’ which instructs all content to be blocked, and the account is no longer in use.”
The message is only shown to existing subscribers as these accounts can no longer be found by search. Websites, apps, and even WeChat mini-programs connected to these accounts, however, are still operating as normal. In fact, replacements of WeChat public accounts have already started popping up to continue the postings.
Multiple Chinese government and regulatory bodies jointly released a document on “Preventing the Financing Risks of Initial Coin Offerings” in September 2017 which initiated the ICOs ban in China. Nevertheless, as blockchain became a hot topic in China, a plethora of related news and media companies emerged to report on ICOs, an activity deemed illegal in the country.