Nanjing -- Police in east China have arrested or warned 60 people for spreading rumors or threats through text messages and the Internet since the beginning of the year.
Xia Cunxi, spokesman of the Jiangsu Provincial Public Security Department, said at a news briefing that police had dealt with 64 cases in which people were alleged to have concocted and spread rumors, deceptions or offensive messages.
"Rumors spread by modern means of communication can be a greater menace to society than those spread by word of mouth," said Xia, citing three such cases.
On July 11, a text message began circulating in Jiangsu, claiming victims of full-blown AIDS were spreading the disease by using toothpicks at local restaurants and returning them to the containers on tables. The message warned recipients against using toothpicks in Jiangsu.
The police traced the rumor to two businessmen surnamed Du and Cao through Du's cellphone.
During interrogation, Du, a resident of Jiangsu who had been doing business in Sichuan Province, and Cao, also a native of Jiangsu, said they received the text message early in July.
The duo then forwarded the message to more than 200 relatives and friends back in Jiangsu from July 11 to 14.
Both Du and Cao were detained in Ya'an, in Sichuan, and transferred to police custody in Jiangsu.