China's Cyberspace Administration has lashed out at Facebook Inc.'s (FB) - Get Report WhatsApp, calling on the messaging service to stop the spread of "illegal information" in the country, according to Bloomberg News.
The government call-out comes as China increases internet scrutiny ahead of its Oct. 18 Communist Party congress, which happens once every five years and will reorganize party leadership. China has been tightening its grip on WhatsApp, which had previously been one of only a few messaging services permitted to function without government interference.
This week, China's government implored WhatsApp to take more proactive measures to find and intercept messages with violent or extremist content. The government retains the right to tell firms to do so without offering specifics or standards.
China has recently surveilled WhatsApp with high-tech tools as part of a long-term crackdown, online security firm Symbolic Software told Bloomberg. That crackdown resulted in sporadic messaging issues in July and an interruption of all WhatsApp service across the country last week.
The government has shut gossip sites, handed down hefty fines and most recently punished Tencent Holding Ltd.'s (TCEHY) WeChat administrators for hosting what the government deems sensitive content.
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