Feeds

China purges coup rumours from social media

Six arrested, sites shuttered, after reports of Beijing coup spread online

New hybrid storage solutions

Two of China’s biggest social media companies, Tencent and Sina, have reportedly been punished by the government and forced to temporarily suspend comments on their micro-blogging sites, after the authorities clamped down in response to unsubstantiated online rumours of a coup in Beijing last month.

Rumours started to swirl a fortnight ago around the country’s hugely popular Twitter-like services including Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo. They suggesting a power struggle at the heart of the Communist Party had been ignited after populist politician and Politburo member Bo Xilai was deposed.

Some tweeted to say they had seen military vehicles on the streets of Beijing and that they heard shots near the Party compound of Zhongnanhai.

However, the spreading of so-called ‘rumours’ online has been illegal in China since the government issued strict new guidelines last November in a bid to cement its authority and prevent the mobilisation of any kind of political opposition movement.

True to form, the authorities have now come down hard on those it believes were responsible for the rumours.

State-run news agency Xinhua reported late on Friday that six people have been arrested for spreading rumours online, while Tencent and Sina were singled out for failing to police content rigorously enough on their respective weibo platforms.

The sites were “severely criticised” and punished “accordingly”, according to the report, although there was no further information on exactly what this punishment entailed.

They were also reportedly forced to block all users from commenting on the sites for three days while the pages are purged of any ‘harmful’ content.

A further 16 web sites were shut down by the authorities in retaliation for the fabrication or spreading of rumours.

Tencent and Sina may between them have over 500 million users of their weibo platforms but the government would have no qualms in shutting down the services altogether if they were judged to be wilfully ignoring Party rules.

Recent regulations requiring users to register for social sites with their real names were unpopular with firms such as Sina who complained they might put a serious dent in subscriber numbers.

Possibly as a result some firms were pretty slow to enforce the rules and users found ways to circumvent the requirements.

However, the weekend’s happenings have given the authorities another opportunity to get tough on censorship.

With a once in a decade transfer of power set to take place at the top of the Party next year, the government is likely to put an increased focus on what is being said online to make sure social order is maintained. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Heavy VPN users are probably pirates, says BBC
And ISPs should nab 'em on our behalf
Former Bitcoin Foundation chair pleads guilty to money-laundering charge
Charlie Shrem plea deal could still get him five YEARS in chokey
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.