Just last week we ran a quick story about several Chinese black PR operatives getting arrested for starting online rumors about, among other things, quasi-mythical Communist legend Lei Feng. But apparently China is taking this crackdown on rumors quite seriously, and police all over are working to bring in the real people behind the “harmful information” that gets posted on China’s web. In Shanghai, for example, police say that since the beginning of this year they’ve investigated more than 380 cases of online rumors involving more than 170 suspects.
Among those suspects is a man named Fu Xuesheng, who was arrested for making up rumors to, among other things, get revenge on an acquaintance named Huang with whom he had a financial dispute. After Huang died in an accident, Fu suggested his death had been a corruption-related murder when actually it had just been an accident. In fact, Fu concocted an elaborate and highly specific story that fingered several specific officials, revealed the sums of several bribes and suggested one official kept ten mistresses and had murdered Huang. Since corruption is a hot-button issue on Chinese social media, the rumor gained a lot of traction, but according to police it was a total fabrication. Fu was also the man behind a libelous rumor about Sinopec that proved to be completely false.
It’s not clear how long this crackdown will last but obviously all the rhetoric about online rumors hasn’t been just talk. So whatever else you were planning to do this fall, I’d scratch “fabricating controversial rumors on Sina Weibo” off your list because apparently that’s no longer allowed.
(Beijing Morning Post via TechWeb)