China’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS) said on Saturday it has closed 1,100 social media accounts and 31 websites suspected of engaging in trolling activities or posting messages for extortion since the start of this year.
The police also busted 28 cases involving unlawful activities of paid online trolls or ghostwriters hired to post online content and arrested 67 suspects after a series of operations, the Ministry was cited as saying by Xinhua news agency.
According to the Ministry, more than 80 enterprises and organisations were blackmailed.
In a statement, the MPS accused the suspects of engaging in extortion, fraud, running illegal businesses, causing trouble, libel and violation of personal information.
Some suspects, by using social media platforms such as the microblogging service Sina Weibo and Wechat as well as by setting up websites overseas, organised large-scale operations in paid post-writing, post-deletion and other activities, said the MPS.
The police found that certain social-media account operators even fabricated trumped-up accusations against organisations and individuals, posted negative information online and demanded a “ransom like” fee in exchange for post-deletion services.
Under certain circumstances, these suspects also hired other influential social media account owners and bloggers to hype up their clients, in violation of illegal advertising regulations, according to the report.
The Ministry said among the nabbed suspects, some were given a jail term while other cases were transferred to judicial organs.