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China Censorship Government Social Networks The Internet The Media Your Rights Online Politics

Chinese Internet Firms Punished For Permitting Spread Of Political Rumors 75

Posted by timothy
from the everyone's-best-interest-at-heart dept.
First time accepted submitter rover42 writes "Major Chinese sites Sina and Webo 'have been legally punished for permitting the spread of unfounded rumors. Specifically, the report cites unfounded rumors that were spreading like wildfire on Sina Weibo of an attempted coup d'etat happening in Beijing.' The source is the state-run Xinhua." Sadly for the people of China (even if they like it this way), this seems to be in line with the Chinese government's general attitude toward the Internet.
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Chinese Internet Firms Punished For Permitting Spread Of Political Rumors

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  • by jpapon (1877296) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @04:15AM (#39532723) Journal
    So now not only do they have to police for content, they have to police for truth?? Yikes.
    • The rumors are false? true? that shouldn't be part of the discussion. Anybody can start a false rumor, even in good faith, and then somebody uses it as justification for censorship, removal of rights, wars, whatever. If you allow that, you might as well forget about constitutions and laws.

      Why would governments suddenly care about truthful reporting in the net when other media are biased all the time? Truth says all men are equal no? then compare the coverage of 911 to the one of bhopal to the one of iraq ci

    • by Hentes (2461350)
      And of course what is true or false is decided by the government.
  • And Weibo is a part of Sina. Do you mean Tencent?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    - Someone phoned me and said there's a revolution!
    - Quick! Punish the phone company!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      - Someone phoned me and said there's a revolution!
      - Quick! Punish the phone company!

      That would be like closing MegaUpload because their users shared illegal content.

      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        Different country, different concepts of acceptable censorship.

        And I guess we both get to laugh at each other's expense.

      • by poity (465672)

        no, it would be like closing twitter because too many people were talking about Obama's hot mic incident
        unless you equate sharing copyrighted content with open access to news and interpersonal communication, there is no similarity

  • So they demand that people have correct informations, not just lies? This can not stand! We demand to have lies in our news!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Truths that the government disagrees with have the tendency to get labeled as lies by the government, regardless of the actual state of things.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      >>So they demand that people have correct informations, not just lies? This can not stand! We demand to have lies in our news!

      For shame... you mean CNN, MSNBC et al. aren't lying enough to you?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...is minimise the purchases you make of products built in China. Buy local where you can, and buy from a country with the best reputation for respecting human rights otherwise. In particular, avoid trend-setting brands, as their response will be followed by others.

    Contrary to popular belief, you don't free the slaves by paying the slave-owner.

    • The top 10 countries with the best HR records are

      Norway
      San Marino
      Canada
      Belgium
      Luxembourg
      Sweden
      Finland
      Denmark
      Iceland
      New Zealand
      Slovenia

      I doubt that even all 10 of them put together export as much as China. I think we just would have to stop buying at all.

      • by Chrisq (894406)

        The top 10 countries with the best HR records are

        Norway San Marino Canada Belgium Luxembourg Sweden Finland Denmark Iceland New Zealand Slovenia

        I doubt that even all 10 of them put together export as much as China. I think we just would have to stop buying at all.

        Can I start a rumour that all of them are in favour of free abortions for gay couples?

      • by lennier (44736)

        New Zealand
        Slovenia

        Hey, we beat Slovenia! Go Kiwis!

  • by FaxeTheCat (1394763) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @04:56AM (#39532827)
    ...or even news to you, then you have not been paying attention.
    And it is not just in line with the Chine government general attitude towards the internet. It is in line with their general attitude towards any public exchange of information. Internet did not change the attitude, it just made it more difficult to enforce.
    Now, start looking for some of the same attitude elsewhere. Lots of people want to control information and define the truth. It is just that the Chinese are more obvious about it and more successful than most.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Surely more obvious is less successful. The western propaganda machine is much less obvious and much more effective, so much so that you may even deny that it exists.

    • by poity (465672)

      This actually highlights the difference between democratic societies and undemocratic societies. In every country there will be those who desire isolation and secrecy, and those who desire openness and transparency, along with everyone in the continuum between. In democratic societies in which power is shared, opposing forces hold each other in check, with a constantly shifting balance of power. In undemocratic societies however, the dominant force has the final say and nothing holds it in check.

      You can say

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @05:12AM (#39532877)

    No one would be able to smugly post, "Citation?", after each rumor! Or post a Wikipedia link with an article to the contrary.

    The Internet has always been a collection of unfounded rumors. Ever since Al Gore did not claim to not have invented not a non-significant part of it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 31, 2012 @05:35AM (#39532935)

    "Weibo" is the name of Sina's microblogging service ("Sina Weibo") and also the Chinese word for "microblogging." Tencent Microblog and other sites have also come under fire and restricted commenting today.

    The crackdown has been a long time coming, as Sina and Tencent, among other online microblogging sites, have basically said that they would be laxer than the government would like in cracking down on online discussion, mostly as a way of building their user bases.

    More information about the crackdown and the reaction is at http://www.rectified.name/2012/03/31/and-the-reaction-becomes-the-story/.

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @05:56AM (#39532987)

    The public has no opinion. You might as well point out how many people voted for Saddam Hussein... I think it was over 98 percent.

    How likely do you think it is that 83 percent of Chinese people actually agree with internet censorship? And what does that even mean? That something should be censored? I mean, most people are not found of horse-porn or whatever horrible mind searing abomination could conceivably be dredged up by the folks at 4chan. But there is a world of difference between not wanting to see child porn everywhere and agreeing with the systematic domination of all public discourse.

    That domination is complete in China. Everything is censored, controlled, tweaked, threatened, bullied, or groupthinked into "order"...

    The chinese neither like nor dislike it. They have no right to an opinion either way.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Luckyo (1726890)

      So, the chinese are, by your definition, not human? Because humans have opinions on things. They tend like or dislike them. And so on.

      Or is it so unacceptable that they simply have a different culture, with different points of importance for them?

      • by Karmashock (2415832) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @06:47AM (#39533141)

        Why do people think strawmen are valid arguments? It's really quiet odd. They just make up an opinion, impose it on someone else, and then argue against that as if the first person said that.

        Why are you supporting child molestation by the way? That's disgusting.

        As to humans and opinions, no humans don't necessarily have opinions. It depends on the intellectual and social environment they exist in. Imagine you live in a religious cult... do you have lots of opinions that are at odds with the cult? Probably not because the whole cult is designed to control what you believe and to use various social pressures to make sure you have those opinions. They're not yours... they are socially imposed.

        For example, you have lots of opinions that you never came up with yourself and have never honestly considered. This is true of everyone. We are social creatures and mostly adopt the opinions of our society.

        Consider all the counter culture people that tell everyone they're against conforming. Notice now that they all dress like each other. Notice they all tend to use the same vocabulary. Notice that they all tend to have the same opinions about just about everything as each other. Notice that they in fact do conform if anything more rigidly then the masses only to a counter culture.

        This is the norm.

        what are you thoughts on cannibalism, marrying girls as young as eight years old, or slavery? All socially imposed taboos. My point is not that you should or shouldn't like these things but that it is something not considered acceptable for you to have a varying opinion on the matter. The society has said that Canadianism is wrong. PERIOD. It is not open for debate. Marrying people as young as eight is wrong. Period. Slavery is wrong. Period. We start drilling this into children at around two years old when children ask lots of questions. And we answer most of them. The children pay attention not only to the answers by to the way they are answered. A strong YES or NO is imprinted on their minds in ways a "maybe" or "that's up to you" are not.

        This sort of thing continues throughout our lives though of course at a certain point our personalities become more fixed and while we'll outwardly conform we'll remain internally more flexible.

        So, in that context do the chinese people have opinions?

        They have the opinions they're allowed to have which don't include questioning the power, divine right, or moral clarity of the state.

        • by jpapon (1877296)

          The society has said that Canadianism is wrong. PERIOD. It is not open for debate.

          Why ya gotta be harshin on the Canucks so bad, bro? They're generally pretty nice people... and Hockey and Poutine are pretty great too.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          This is asinine. Just because a (possibly rather large) number of Chinese are NOT PERMITTED TO EXPRESS their opinions against the totalitarian state they live in, does not mean those opinions do not exist.

          • There will be exceptions but consider how many of your beliefs were formed by listening to someone else or getting information from someone else. Imagine if you lived in an environment where it was considered taboo to say anything against the state.

            Imagine if it were like admitting racism or some extreme sexual perversion to proclaim disharmony with the state. Consider all the homosexuals in our society that are so indoctrinated against homosexuality that they try really hard to be heterosexual. And that's

          • by Anonymous Coward

            that's a non-argument. that's like saying people who are bound in slavery still have rights because, metaphysically speaking, human rights are innate. oh yeah sure feels good to be born with innate rights when you can't exercise them.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It depends a bit on how the question is asked, but I think 83% is pretty likely (and I live in China currently). The foreigners here (like me) do not like it, but they know what they miss, and they may have an interest in some of the censored content. For Chinese people, many are quite concerned about social stability, and think censoring is an excellent way of preventing trouble. And very important: Most never even noticed anything of interest was censored.
      To them it is akin to asking: do you think crimin

      • Our second amendment is not something most of the government encourages much. It is a right passed down from the founders.

        We as citizens have a right to be dangerous. Just as I have a right to speak or have my own opinions. You can't be a citizen without being permitted to be dangerous.

        The whole point was that the government existed to serve the people not the other way around. And the people unlike europe at the time were not to be peasants but to be free citizens.

        To our ancestors that implied many of the

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Oyjord (810904)

      "That domination is complete in China. Everything is censored, controlled, tweaked, threatened, bullied, or groupthinked into "order".... The chinese neither like nor dislike it. They have no right to an opinion either way."

      This is utter and complete bullshit. I'm an American professor of history, and was in China no more than two weeks ago. I had frequent, open exchanges about politics, economics, society, the Communist Party, Hu Jintao, his likely successor, and even Tiananmen Square with numerous Chine

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by Karmashock (2415832)

        The did you now? And what percentage of the youth in china are aware of the Tiananmen square incident? It isn't taught in school. It isn't in the media.

        Where would they learn of it?

        And as you're claiming to be a professor, do you honestly think 85 percent of chinese want their internet censored for political speech?

        Come now Mr educated... what does 85 percent sound like to you? Compare that to other countries and think upon what issues you could get 85 percent of the US or any european country to agree.

        Actu

  • In other countries, I could talk about a faux coup d'etat all day long (although not necessarily about planning one) and the government would not care a damn.
    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      You do realise that even in one of the most free countries in the world in terms of free speech, USA, FBI has a watch list of people and organisations that threaten overthrowing the government?

    • In other countries, I could talk about a faux coup d'etat all day long (although not necessarily about planning one) and the government would not care a damn.

      I sincerely doubt it. They would be probably more lax, but probably in most of the countries the police / intelligence would at least investigate it (did the poster knew of anything of interest / was he just testing the waters for support / whatever). It would be akin to investigating threats to the president.

      What is true is that the forum would be less likely to blame (instead they would go for the actual poster) and investigations could be more "polite". But I think (and expect) that a claim like this wou

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Try advocating that the Holohoax is a Jewish fabrication designed to squeeze compensation from the Europeans.

  • The persons in charge were identified and executed on site to prevent further infection with dangerous thoughts.

  • by Swampash (1131503) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @06:51AM (#39533153)

    America gets high and mighty about another country censoring the Internet. Next it will start criticising other countries for their dependence on fossil fuels, their dysfunctional systems of government, and invading other nations.

    • by burni2 (1643061)

      Don't forget to mention torture, please.

    • Re:I love it when (Score:5, Insightful)

      by daveschroeder (516195) * on Saturday March 31, 2012 @08:09AM (#39533347)

      I read the comments on this post wondering if someone would somehow turn China's behavior into some kind of commentary on the US, acting as if the things the US does are somehow even REMOTELY NEAR China on some imaginary moral scale.

      I got through all the comments, surprised that the discussion was squarely focused on China's utterly dismal record on human rights, dissent, freedom of information, internet censorship, etc...until yours.

      Actually, your post is more correct in its irony than you can ever know:

      Censoring the internet — let me guess: takedowns of sites devoted exclusively to piracy? Yeah, not anywhere NEAR the same as censoring the entire internet for thoughts and requiring real name registration on the internet.

      Dependence on fossil fuels — China's new vehicle sales will exceed the US by 2015. China's greenhouse emissions will exceed the US by 50% by 2015. They are expected to double ours by 2020. It will exceed our fossil fuel consumption somewhere in that same timeframe.

      Dysfunctional systems of government — "Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." - Winston Churchill (1874-1965), Speech in the House of Commons, November 11, 1947

      Invading other nations — I'm sure the fact that China increased its military budget by 11% this year alone, will exceed the US in real military spending by 2025, development of an anti-carrier anti-ship ballistic missile, and its massive buildout of a blue water Navy are for "peaceful regional defense".

      But if you really believe that this is the pot calling the kettle black, be happy in your little world of moral relativism, and I hope you get the world you wish for — you know, the one where you think the interests and ideals of China and the Communist Party system are somehow not any better or worse than that of the US and West, just "different".

      • I don't believe China will make it to that point simply by virtual of prosperity. Wealth and power tend to make people more confident and assertive. If there isn't already, there will be a massive schizm among the ruling rank and file. The geopolitical implications of this happening are off-the-chart massive. That is to say, there's know telling what will happen, but the projected view today will not take place into the future.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Following is the precise reason that I, an American, can cast judgement on the Chinese government:

      "Both President Obama and House Speaker Boehner are doing a terrible job in their respective offices. Boehner actively pursues policy that will harm most Americans, and Obama signs bills that are harmful to the American people. Additionally, there is no current candidate for presidential office that will sincerely and genuinely defend the liberty of most American citizens."

      In China, this statement (or any analo

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I find that the most interesting part of the story... the alleged stability of the PRC which attracts western companies could be at stake here.
    I know this is a tech site, but we could be talking about news of historic proportions.

  • Inside Jobs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MichaelBlaugh (2607775) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @08:18AM (#39533371)

    There is heavy unrest at the elite level China now, and the authorities are handling it in the typical full-retard fashion with which authority typically handles things in general.

    Two weeks ago, Bo Xilai was removed by Wen Jiabao. This conflict has been buzzing all over the news here, and it is profoundly important.

    Xilai was a classic Chinese Marxist (think "Cultural Revolution" posters) who was steering Chongqing towards a social democracy. His major contributions included deposing the mafia, which angered the businessmen, and offering low-income housing. Wen Jiabao, on the other hand, is very similar to Deng Xiaoping in that he espouses the newer vision of a "free-market" China, where invisible hands reign and free market is the best path to their prosperity.

    The Marxist side of China has been raging ever since, and much of these people have been put on a "terrorist watch list", so to speak.

    On the other hand, China still very much has an underground internet presence. You just haven't heard of it. As someone who is living here, I assure you, discourse is far from stifled.

    • This hockey stick graph [wikipedia.org] speaks volumes. If this proof that Marxism is a complete failure doesn't speak volumes, nothing will outside the confines of any rational human being.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm always puzzled by the number of people on Slashdot who seem to root for China and against the US. Anyone who knows anything about China knows that China only works for its Han Chinese, and the vast majority of posters on slashdot hoping for the downfall of the US will never be on the good side of China's foreign or domestic policy. Becareful what you wish for... Or perhaps you should work within the political system to change the US while there still is a superpower free enough to be changed politicall

    • by russotto (537200)

      I'm always puzzled by the number of people on Slashdot who seem to root for China and against the US.

      There's a lot of anti-US sentiment on Slashdot, some of it quite justified. There's also a lot of shills, including Chinese government shills. Figuring out which is which is an exercise for the student.

      (Obvious shills are obvious, but I'd bet there are non-obvious ones as well. The puzzling thing is that whoever is paying the shills seem to think slashdot matters... or perhaps they just use it for practi

  • I am the only that thinks that, in the event of a real coup, this policy would make things so much easier for subverting organizations? People in the coup would only need to control official media; they would need not to control private media and the internet companies because they would already been censoring this information per the government orders.

  • Shocking news. But hey, they have cheap labor, so who cares, right? If those people were allowed free speech, they wouldn't be so cheap anymore.
  • so that different from the removal of advertising from your newspaper because you don't support a related political party? Or having to run all media content past the company lawyers before it's aired?

  • So, it is somehow 'sad' that rumour-mongering and whipping up trouble is now illegal - in China, at least?

    I am not necessarily convinced the best way to go about things is by going after the blogging services - I know too little about the subject. What I am convinced of is that you need to have a paricularly crooked mind to think that it is wrong to require truthfulness in reporting - all reporting. This is even more important in a democracy; the way American news media twist the trust or even outright lie

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