CAC Announces Rules to Regulate the Content of News Headlines

On January 13, 2017, the Cyberspace Administration of China published a notice on its website entitled “CAC Deepens Its Rectification of the ‘Headline Party’ Problem” (国家网信办深入整治“标题党”问题). Some excerpts:
In order to further purify the online public opinion environment and to attack the chaos of altering headlines, distorting the original meaning of news and other behaviors of the "headline party," the CAC in coordination with relevant agencies recently launched a one month rectification campaign and imposed sanctions on five websites with outstanding problems: Sina, Sohu, Netease, Phoenix, and Focus, and formulated specific rules for Internet news headlines.
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In order to strengthen long-term controls over the "Headline Party" problem, the CAC formulated and promulgated the "(Interim) Rules on the Administration of Internet News Headline Norms" (hereinafter the "Rules") which clearly require all websites to maintain a correct public opinion orientation that runs through all aspects of Internet news collecting, drafting, editing, and publishing. When reporting on all kind of significant news, but especially news that touches upon important political current events and major public disturbances, they must ensure that the content of all headlines transmits a position, standpoint, and attitude with a correct orientation, scrupulously abide by journalistic ethics, and strictly prohibit malicious distorted headlines that stir up trouble or deliberately create public opinion "hotspots."
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It is strictly prohibited to use "Breaking Online," "Spreading Online," or other indeterminate vocabulary in headlines for compiled reports or to describe the essential elements of news. It is strictly prohibited to employ any "Headline Party" techniques such as using content that is exaggerated, outrageous, or unconventional.
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In order to make it convenient for Internet users to participate in overseeing and reporting, the China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center has established an official website specifically for reporting websites with "Headline Party" problems (, and at the same time has demanded that the six major commercial websites Sina, Sohu, Netease, Tencent, Baidu, and Phoenix establish clearly visible reporting links on their home pages and arrange for personnel to accept Internet user reports 24 hours a day. 
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