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China calls for boycott on online falsehoods

(Xinhua)

18:12, October 01, 2011

BEIJING, September 30 (Xinhua) -- A government spokesperson on Friday called for a boycott on online falsehoods and Internet-based rumors, which he referred to as "malignant tumors" that are detrimental to social stability.

The spokesperson from the State Internet Information Office under the State Council, or China's Cabinet, called for China's 500 million Internet users to "abide by the law, show self-discipline and refrain from spreading rumors."

The spokesperson urged Internet enterprises and websites to "strengthen the management of information publication" and invited the public to give tip-offs on online rumors.

The spokesperson made the remarks as he condemned a falsified "prostitute diary" that has became an online microblog sensation on Sina Weibo, the country's most popular Twitter-like service.

Under the online pseudonym "Ruoxiaoan1," a 31-year-old male editor surnamed Lin posted 401 entries to his Weibo account starting in January, fabricating stories about working as a 22-year-old female prostitute in Hangzhou, the capital city of east China's Zhejiang Province.

Before Lin's real identity was discovered by police, his microblog account was followed by more than 250,000 users, including several prominent Chinese Internet celebrities. Some of his entries were re-tweeted as many as 10,000 times.

Lin was fined 500 yuan ($78.5) for disturbing public order in accordance with China's Internet regulations, and his microblog account was permanently deleted.

The spokesperson ordered relevant local authorities and websites to hold individuals and websites that spread rumors accountable, and penalize them according to law.

China's websites have launched notable campaigns to stop the spread of information they consider harmful.

Sina Weibo asked its millions of users to help check the spread of unconfirmed rumors in August.

The company said that microbloggers will have their accounts suspended for one month if they are found posting messages containing false information.

At 500 million users, China is home to the world's largest number of registered netizens. The rising popularity of microblogging services has allowed this segment of the country's population to voice their opinions and beliefs in a way that has never been seen before in China.

The number of Chinese microbloggers reached 195 million by the end of June, a 208.9 percent increase over the number recorded around the end of 2010, according to statistics from the China Internet Network Information Center.

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