News / Asia

China Calls for Crackdown on Internet Rumors

Chinese youths use computers at an Internet cafe in Beijing, June 2005 (file photo)
Chinese youths use computers at an Internet cafe in Beijing, June 2005 (file photo)

China's state news agency has called for a crackdown on what it calls the spread of toxic rumors over the Internet.

Xinhua published an article Tuesday in Chinese-only criticizing the increasingly popular social networking sites for spreading rumors like cancer, and urged preventive action.

Chinese authorities use sophisticated software to try to control what is said on the Internet. The government has become increasingly nervous about the Arab uprisings, which have gathered huge support through online networking. Officials fear they may inspire unrest in China.

Human rights groups say China is stifling free speech. Eric Harwit, an adjunct fellow at the East-West Center in Hawaii, tells VOA that Beijing also may be genuinely concerned about the spread of misinformation.

“In some cases, I think there are people who do want to incite action or opposition to the government and to propagate information that isn’t exactly correlated with reality,” he said. “The statement by the government may be rather strong and might stifle online discussion, but I think the government does sense that there are rumors that could be harmful to society and to stability.”

Most recently, users of China's Weibo service, the country's equivalent of Twitter, sent millions of messages criticizing the official response to the high-speed train disaster in July, which killed 40 people. Harwit said that event prompted the government not just to clamp down on information, but to release it, as well.

“I think the train crash issue certainly was one that the government saw as inspiring the government to release more information on an important event, and probably did involve some people in society spreading information that wasn’t necessarily accurate,” he said.

Despite Beijing’s warning, Harwit said he does not believe China’s “microblogs” are going away. Microblogs are Web sites that allow people to post short updates in real-time. Popular topics include news, entertainment and financial advice.

“They’ve become too popular. The companies that are the main providers of microblogs, Sina and Tencent, they’ve been promoting the use of these microblogs for the last few years. So it’d be very difficult for the government to tell them to stop.”
China has the world's largest online population, with close to 500 million users.

You May Like

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid