On Friday, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) announced that the Tieba communication platform, the WeChat messenger and Weibo, which is the analogue of Twitter, were suspected of breaching cybersecurity law by not fulfilling their responsibility in censoring illegal content posted on the networks by their users.
China adopted a series of new cyber security laws earlier this year, most of much took effect in June, that gives the government sweeping powers of the country's almost 750 million daily internet users.
The CAC will continue to crack down on illegal online behavior and welcomes reports from the public.
The investigation of China's own social media sites will probably prompt them to do even more to curate their content, further narrowing the Chinese population's ability to protest.
The notice suggests the investigations were prompted by "reports made by web users" (language not uncommon in the enforcement of online controls), and that the three platforms "host content including violence, fabrication and rumor, obscenity and pornography, and other information shared by users that harms national security, public safety and social order".
The probe is the latest in a series of recent moves by Beijing to tighten its control of online information. But while Apple is trying to maintain good relations with China by complying with such requests, analysts and tech commentators believe that its troubles with the country 'have just started'. The crackdown further spread to the booming live-streaming industry, which has become the core business for companies like Weibo.
China has applied increasing pressure over Internet media in the run-up to an important Communist Party congress later this year that is expected to consolidate President Xi Jinping's authority. The oversight of online media content should alert global luxury brands, which now heavily rely on these social media apps to operate their business in China.