Jinri Toutiao, one of China’s most popular news aggregator sites with around 120 million active daily users, is offering cash incentives for articles written to debunk fake news and rumours.

Dubbed “100”, the initiative will pay out up to 3,000 yuan (US $432, £338) to writers of the top 100 articles that do so and it comes amid a broader campaign by the Chinese authorities to clamp down on content deemed to be inappropriate.

Beijing-based Jinri Toutiao, whose name means “Today’s Headlines”, was launched in 2012 and has become one of the fastest growing start-ups in China by offering users news content in a variety of formats.

Now owned by ByteDance Techology, Toutiao was temporarily banned from all app platforms in April after the Chinese authorities accused it of hosting “obscene content”, South China Morning Post reported.

Toutiao subsequently took action and revealed that it has intercepted 500,000 articles containing “rumours” and banned 9,026 accounts since May, through the use of both human censors and artificial intelligence.

In addition, founder and CEO Zhang Yiming, promised in a public apology that the company’s vetting team would be expanded from 6,000 to 10,000 people.

Its financial rewards package is just the latest effort to tackle content that falls below the standards expected from Beijing’s clean-up campaign, which frowns on a wide range of topics, from sensitive political news to celebrity gossip and off-colour jokes.

“We would like to invite the whole of society and users of the platform to be supervisors and together participate in the governance of online platforms,” Toutiao said in an online statement.

The company also revealed that it was working with researchers at the University of Michigan to deploy AI technologies, such as natural language processing, to combat rumours on its site.

The development comes as the Chinese authorities have begun tightening controls over the internet throughout the country.

It was reported earlier this month that the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) will require all tech firms and online service providers operating in China to provide detailed logs of user activity and other personal information.

The CAC also said it had erased 9,800 social media accounts that were judged to have posted sensational, vulgar or politically harmful content on the internet.

Sourced from South China Morning Post; additional content by WARC staff