Chinese news agency urges end to ‘cancer’ of online rumours

China’s official state news agency has called on websites in the country to put a stop to the “cancer” of online rumours. The call is believed to be the latest sign of unease over the potential of social networks to subvert the official Communist Party line.

The call, from the Xinhua news agency comes days after a senior Communist Party official issued a similar warning to China’s largest microblogging platform Sina Weibo.

“The internet is an important carrier of social information, civilisation and progress. Rumours will harm the network and are a dangerous cancer,” Xinhua said in a commentary published only in Chinese.

“The reform of internet technology has facilitated the rapid flood of information and communication but also has brought… serious cyber rumours that harm the internet’s development.

“To nurture a healthy internet, we must eradicate the soil in which rumours grow.”

In his visit to Sina Weibo and Youku, a Chinese video streaming site, Beijing Communist Party chief Liu Qi urged internet companies to “ensure the authenticity of information… to create a healthy online media atmosphere”.

The rise of social networks like Sina Weibo, which has over 200-million users, is making it increasingly difficult for Chinese authorities to maintain their tight grip over the country’s 485-million web users.

Sina Weibo has responded to official concerns around the spreading of online rumours by enforcing a temporary ban on users deemed to have posted false reports.

The Chinese people have increasingly turned to social networks to vent their frustration over government corruption, scandals and the handling of disasters. Platforms like Sina Weibo allow for the rapid spread of information in a country where the media is tightly controlled by the communist authorities.–AFP with additional reporting by Staff Reporter.



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