China has shut 225 microblog accounts and punished owners of 154 other websites for obscene and pornographic content, state media said on Monday, as the government steps up its monitoring of the Internet.

The microblogs were mostly carried on Sina Corp's Weibo and t.qq.com, both of which operate highly popular Twitter-like services, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing the State Internet Information Office.

“The office has urged various local governments to fulfill their duty in strengthening the supervision on websites and, especially, microblog services that are registered in their region,” Xinhua quoted a statement as saying.

Getting stricter with Social Networking

Keeping unruly adult content at bay

“Among these sites, some that were set up without official approval have already been closed, and others, which are being operated with a license, were ordered to erase all obscene content,” it added. The news agency did not give more details.

China heavily filters the Internet in the name of maintaining social stability, and blocks popular foreign sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Chinese state media have demanded that Internet companies, regulators and police do more to cleanse websites of “toxic rumours”.

The government will from March 16 begin enforcing a rule that microblog users register with their real identities, after which users who are not verified will not be allowed to post messages. China heavily filters the Internet in the name of maintaining social stability, and blocks popular foreign sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. China's microbloggers showed their potency in a string of recent official scandals, particularly an online uproar in the wake of a high-speed bullet train crash last July that killed 40 people. Microbloggers led the charge in challenging rail officials' evasive accounts of the disaster.

Reuters

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