China's ruling Communist Party , through the China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center, has conducted numerous censorship efforts targeting pornography, political criticism and web scams. But officials flagged tougher steps this time.
CIIRC is mainly focused on contents harmful to the healthy growth of minors, such as obscenity and pornography, gambling, violence, terror, criminal abetting, and contents that spread ethnic hatred, libelling and insulting, violating the others' rights, and violating intellectual property rights , the CIIRC says on its official website.
MSN was cited for the large amount of inappropriate images on its film channel and some selected pictures in its social messaging section, along with 13 other local sites.
The campaign, launched earlier this week, originally accused 19 sites including search engines Baidu and Google of undermining public morality.
They had failed to swiftly purge vulgar content and ignored warnings from censors, a television report said.
The companies have since apologized and pledged to clean up, and Beijing apparently plans to hold them to their promises.
Late on Thursday it issued a progress update on the 14 sites originally targeted. Only three were deemed to have done a relatively good job cleaning up, and among those who need to continue the clean up is Google.
The firm had taken initial steps but still had some vulgar pictures on its photo search page, the CIIRC said.
Local search engine, Baidu, a homegrown firm which dominates the domestic search market fared worse and was listed in a group of companies which had made ineffective clean up efforts.
Baidu...has done some cleaning up, but still has a large amount of vulgar content, the report said. The company declined immediate comment.
Despite China's many rings of censorship, websites and especially blogs have outlets for the countries nearly 300 million registered Internet users.