Double-click ads in Chinese media have been banned in the country since the beginning of the year, after the authorities stepped up their scrutiny of the media industry and the rise of social media.
The move to clamp down on the online advertising industry comes amid growing concerns over China’s burgeoning use of social platforms and new ways to monitor users.
While many Chinese authorities have attempted to limit the use of these platforms, the measures are largely ineffective, and critics say the authorities are using them to suppress critical information.
Some experts say the measures appear to be designed to protect Chinese media and its owners.
“This is the first time we have seen the crackdown in China on the internet,” said Li Guoping, a researcher with China Media Project, a think tank that tracks media trends.
“This is a step toward the government cracking down on online speech.”
Citing the crackdown, the People’s Daily said on Tuesday that advertising in the popular state news portal Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, would not be allowed.
Chinese regulators said on Thursday that they would ban the use and distribution of double-click advertising in state media, although they did not specify when or where such ads would be banned.
The new restrictions came as Chinese authorities ramp up their efforts to crack down on social media, with a slew of crackdowns in recent weeks.
Chinese authorities are reportedly using the social media platforms to track people’s location, identify political dissidents and monitor users’ activities, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua.
Censorship is also expected to be a priority in the coming weeks, with Chinese officials planning to hold a high-profile public hearing on the Internet in Shanghai on Friday.
Authorities have also stepped up the use, and in some cases the distribution, of malware, according a report published on Thursday by security firm Mandiant.
Mandiant said that a number of Chinese Internet companies have been targeted in the past year by malicious software designed to infect and collect personal information, and it has identified a number that have been infected with a piece of malware that mimics the DoubleClick advertising software.
China’s social media marketplaces have also been targeted with adware and malware that was developed specifically to target social media users, according the report.