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China enacted a new law Tuesday that would rein in the use of recommendation algorithms in apps in an effort to curb the influence of large tech companies in shaping public opinion, the South China Morning Post reported.
The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) unveiled the regulations in August and published the final version of the rules in January.
Officials emphasized that algorithms must be regulated because they can potentially damage “personal rights and interests, and even (endanger) national security in more serious cases.”
They also noted that the regulation aims to resolve the issue of “algorithmic discrimination,” which arises when some online platforms use data about their customers’ spending patterns to charge high-spending consumers higher prices.
The new rules cover nearly all service providers using algorithms, including short video-sharing apps, e-commerce sites and delivery platforms. Tech companies are also ordered to “promote positive energy” and allow users to reject personalized recommendations offered by their platforms.
The new rules are also expected to aid authorities in cracking down on content recommendations which can potentially shape public opinion or instigate “social mobilization.”
The new law underscores China’s continues efforts to control online content and comes at a time when misinformation is running rampant on Chinese social media despite strict government censorship.
The issue has gained more attention in recent days because of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, which prompted authorities to shut down thousands of accounts, videos and posts related to the war.