Chinese authorities are cracking down on Internet-based rumors, removing more than 210,000 online posts and shutting down 42 websites since mid-March. Senior officials say that Internet-based rumor creation and dissemination is illegal under Chinese law. The government is also cracking down on Chinese services like Sohu.com, Sina.com (NASDAQ:SINA), and Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) for providing outlets for rumor development.
The State Internet Information Office and Internet administration, along with telecoms and police agencies, believes that the move leads to an improved online environment. Chinese officials assert that creating and spreading rumors via the Internet disrupt public order and undermine social stability. These behaviors are not tolerated and rumormongers will be held accountable in accordance with the law in China, officials said.
According to a senior official with the State Internet Information Office, China has recently seen a surging number of online rumors, including rumors of military vehicles entering Beijing. Officials insist these reports were fabricated by a number of lawless individuals bent on disrupting and manipulating the public. Six people were detained by the police for allegedly fabricating and spreading rumors. Officials claim the crackdown is being welcomed by people in all circles, and that they fulfill the expectations of the general public.
Authorities insist that rumors typically come in the form of microblog posts. Many microblog users are unable to distinguish between valid reports and rumors, and forward these rumors to attract more attention online. The rumors are able to spread efficiently and quickly. Officials claims that the issue is further complicated when Internet users are fabricating or spreading rumors through mircroblogging service websites like Sina.com, based in China.
China is looking to solve the problem, with both government agencies and the Internet service providers playing a role. Officials are asking Internet users to remain vigilant against rumors and report them to authorities in a timely manner. China has announced that the country will continue to supervise the Internet and make it a more trustworthy and useful service for the country’s economic and social development.