Chinese microbloggers arrested over online rumors

Chinese microbloggers arrested over online rumors

Summary: Two Weibo users allegedly involved in "black PR" business in China have been detained by the police for fabricating rumors and obtaining benefits illegally through their microblogging accounts.

TOPICS: Censorship, Legal, China

Two Weibo users allegedly involved in "black PR" business in China were detained by the police this week for fabricating rumors and obtaining benefits illegally through their microblogging accounts. The arrests marked the commencement of the government's earlier pledge to crack down on online rumors.


Yang Xiuyu and Qin Zhihui, who each oversees a Web marketing company, were hauled in by the police which said the duo had deliberately spread rumors and defamed celebrities in a bid to generate profits, according to a Sina report Thursday. The authories added that both were paid by other companies to fabricate rumors on their Weibo accounts to damage the reputation of other competitors. To raise public awareness of their Weibo accounts, the two allegedly planned a series of events on the Internet to attract fans and public awareness.

In one incident following a July 23 high-speed railway accident in China in 2011, Yang and Qin published notes on their Weibo accounts claiming the Chinese government paid 200 million yuan (US$32.9 million) to a foreign passenger to settle the dispute. The message was shared over 12,000 times within an hour, triggering public discontent with the government, said the Sina report.

The pair also defamed celebrities, including Luo Yuan, who is a major-general with the People's Liberation Army and known known for making patriotic remarks. Yang and Qin called Luo a deserter during a war and that his family members were now living and working in the U.S. and Germany.

According to the police, Qin alone had fabricated over 3,000 unsubstantiated claims via his Weibo account.

Chinese law enforcers also vowed to investigate "opinion leaders" who helped the two microbloggers spread the rumors online. A number of well-known accounts on Weibo, with followers totaling in the hundreds of millions, had been actively sharing messages posted by the pair.

After the police crackdown, some Weibo users stepped out to say they had no connection with the two detained. Many others, including Kai-Fu Lee who is the former president of Google Greater China and has over 50 million followers on Weibo, deleted messages they had shared from Yang and Qin, according to a Sohu news report.

A NetEase report also noted that Weibo accounts deemed to be spreading rumors will be labeled "low credit". 

Earlier this month, six Chinese Internet companies including Qianlong, Baidu, and Sina Weibo jointly launched a new website to monitor and debunk online rumors

Topics: Censorship, Legal, China

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  • So now...

    So now, not only do the Chinese export deadly drywall, poisoned pet food, tainted tooth paste and all their other crappy products, but they're mucking up our celebrity gossip news, too! Gosh! That might be the final straw!

    They can fill our markets with the shoddiest merchandise imaginable, decimate our own manufacturing sector with near slave labor and subsidized industries, and all that's apparently OK. But mess with gossip and even their own government will go after them!
    • Do you own anything made in China?

      After omboo9oo's rant I have to ask him/her the question that is the title of this comment. Don't whinge at the Chinese decimating the US manufacturing sector; it's the US bosses who are exploiting Chinese labour and consequently killing American jobs. Look at Apple - do they manufacture iPhones and iPads in the USA or in China? And that's just one "All-American" company that's exporting jobs (not Steve!).
      I would also like to point out that the quality of many goods coming out of China today matches or exceeds equivalents manufactured in the USA. If the west wants to compete, it's got to be prepared to put in the effort.
      What's really stupid about outsourcing is that not only are we exporting jobs, we're exporting skills too - who wants to train as a steelworker/Programmer/mining engineer/etc when there are no longer any local jobs in those fields? The result of this is that the outsourced manufacturing plants can charge as much as they like in the future because we will no longer have the skills to enable us to compete. Outsourcing is a cheap short term benefit and an expensive long term millstone around the neck of the outsourcer.