Ru­mor ar­rests

Two men have been de­tained in Bei­jing for fab­ri­cat­ing on­line ru­mors and harm­ing the rep­u­ta­tion of oth­ers, Bei­jing po­lice con­firmed on Wed­nes­day.

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By CAO YIN caoyin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Po­lice and ex­perts are ask­ing ne­ti­zens to prac­tice self­dis­ci­pline when surf­ing the In­ter­net and join the ef­fort to re­duce false on­line ru­mors.

Bei­jing po­lice said on Wed­nes­day they have smashed a com­pany that al­legedly made and spread fake in­for­ma­tion on web­sites for prof­its, and ar­rested two men sus­pected of fab­ri­cat­ing on­line ru­mors and harm­ing oth­ers’ rep­u­ta­tions.

Yang Xi­uyu, founder of the Erma Co, and his em­ployee Qin Zhi­hui are sus­pected of us­ing fake in­for­ma­tion to at­tract fol­low­ers, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment pro­vided by the Bei­jing Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Bureau.

Yang and Qin are be­ing held on sus­pi­cion of the crimes of pro­vok­ing trou­ble and run­ning an il­le­gal busi­ness, po­lice said.

Qin, 30, bet­ter known by his on­line name, Qin Huo­huo, had al­leged on Sina Weibo, China’s largest mi­cro-blog site, that the Chi­nese govern­ment had paid 200 mil­lion yuan ($32.7 mil­lion) in com­pen­sa­tion to a for­eign pas­sen­ger af­ter two trains col­lided in Wen­zhou, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, on July 23, 2011.

The mi­cro blog was for­warded about 12,000 times within two hours, cre­at­ing pub­lic anger at the govern­ment, po­lice said.

The two also al­legedly posted on­line that Lei Feng, a sol­dier idol­ized across China half a cen­tury ago for his self­less and mod­est ac­tions, lived a life of lux­ury.

Qin opened 12 mi­cro-blog ac­counts to spread fake in­for­ma­tion since 2011, po­lice said.

An­other two em­ploy­ees in the com­pany have also been ar­rested, po­lice added.

Zhao Feng, an of­fi­cer re­spon­si­ble for the bureau’s mi­cro blog, told China Daily that pub­lic ef­forts are needed to im­prove the on­line en­vi­ron­ment.

Cur­rently, five po­lice of­fi­cers take care of the bureau’s

We should be sen­si­ble about us­ing new me­dia, in­clud­ing mi­cro blogs and WeChat. And we must be care­ful to share ideas or for­ward in­for­ma­tion, es­pe­cially about hot top­ics.”

CHENG MANLI ME­DIA PRO­FES­SOR AT PEKING UNIVER­SITY

mi­cro blog.

“We re­ceive about 20,000 on­line mes­sages ev­ery day,” Zhao said.

How­ever, lots of the mes­sages can eas­ily be iden­ti­fied as fake if ne­ti­zens think twice be­fore for­ward­ing them.

“So ru­mors can fade away when ev­ery mi­cro- blog­ger is care­ful about for­ward­ing on­line in­for­ma­tion,” he said.

The most dif­fi­cult task for the po­lice now is to find who posts the fake in­for­ma­tion first, since the ru­mor­mon­gers some­times can­cel their on­line ac­counts quickly, Zhao said.

Cheng Manli, a me­dia pro­fes­sor at Peking Univer­sity, said self-dis­ci­pline is nec­es­sary and will be­come more im­por­tant in the fu­ture.

“We should be sen­si­ble about us­ing new me­dia, in­clud­ing mi­cro blogs and WeChat,” she said. “And we must be care­ful when shar­ing ideas or for­ward­ing in­for­ma­tion, es­pe­cially about hot top­ics.”

The gov­ern­men­tal de­part­ments and on­line ser­vice plat­forms should also pro­vide au­tho­rized in­for­ma­tion in time, to help ne­ti­zens iden­tify fake ones, she added.

Cui Shaoyu, a mi­cro-blog­ger in Bei­jing, said she usu­ally checks on­line in­for­ma­tion be­fore for­ward­ing it.

“I fol­low many au­tho­rized mi­cro-blog­gers ... and pre­fer tra­di­tional me­dia re­ports,” she added.

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