China closes 580 social media accounts for spreading ‘rumour’

China’s cyberspace administration authority shut down 580 social media accounts which "misled the public" or "violated regulations," Global Times reported.

February 27, 2016 05:32 pm | Updated 05:32 pm IST - Beijing

China has shut down over 580 social media accounts, including those of popular commentators, for spreading rumour, misleading public and violating the Constitution, state media reported on Saturday.

“Some Internet celebrities ignored social responsibilities and abused their influence to publish information that violated the Constitution and damaged the national interest,” the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said in a statement on Friday.

They also allegedly created and circulated rumours and disturbed the social order, according to the CAC website.

China’s cyberspace administration authority shut down 580 social media accounts which “misled the public” or “violated regulations,” Global Times reported.

Among the suspended accounts of big Vs, a term referred to users of Weibo, China’s microblogging website akin to Twitter, are famous actor Sun Haiying, an editor of a Henan—based news website hnr.cn and a Beijing art centre manager.

Sun has been the centre of public criticism several times for making “disrespectful” comments about former leader Mao Zedong and for condemning homosexuality.

Meanwhile, some public accounts on WeChat that allegedly published false political news in the name of Party departments and military organs, fabricated sensational rumours, promoted superstitions and cults, and spread gambling information have also been shut down or suspended.

“Every netizen enjoys freedom of speech when publishing information online, but posting rumours that violate civil rights and harm public interests must be condemned on moral grounds and in accordance with the law,” said Jiang Jun, CAC spokesperson.

The CAC also dealt with 2,000 rumours relating to transportation, food safety and public policies. In response to recent “inaccurate news stories,” including one published on the WeChat account of business magazine Caixin, Mr. Jiang called on news providers to follow journalistic ethics.

“It’s obvious that the negative social impact of fake reports has been worsened by news providers publishing them on their social media accounts,” said Mr. Jiang.

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