Delegates seek to crack down on Internet rumors

Updated: 2014-03-09 07:50

By Cao Yin(China Daily)

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Some deputies to the National People's Congress suggested government and Internet companies crack down on online rumors, in a move to improve credibility in cyberspace.

The Internet has become a necessity in people's lives, but unverified information online also brought negative effects for the public, said Hou Yuwen, a deputy from Jiangxi province.

The content of online information should be regulated, while Internet providers should have healthy competition, Hou said.

"I read news and netizens' comments via my mobile phone every day, but some people's comments, I think, are libelous and have negative aims," she said.

Wu Ying, another deputy from Jiangxi, echoed Hou, saying residents have difficulty identifying what information online can be trusted. Some have been misled by rumors, Wu said.

"I was afraid to book a flight ticket on the Internet before the two sessions because my online money was stolen after I fell for a fake message," Wu said.

The Internet is not limited to entertainment, she said. It has extended to many other aspects of people's lives, "which is why I called upon the government to keep the online information true and safe".

Both delegates expressed hope that the Internet environment would be more reliable after a leading group for cybersecurity was established .

In 2013, the Ministry of Public Security launched a campaign against false online rumors, arresting several rumormongers, including Qin Zhihui, better known by his online name of Qin Huohuo.

Qin said on his micro blog that the government had paid 200 million yuan ($32.7 million) in compensation to a foreign passenger after two trains collided in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, in July 2011. The story turned out to be nothing but a rumor, police said.

Beijing's Internet Information Office called on technology companies to establish a unified platform to aggregate information and dispel rumors.

The platform, built in August, is used to track rumors online and then provide authorized explanations to the public, according to the office.

At the start, only six Internet companies joined the anti-rumor group, but now there are more than 20, said Xu Lei, who is responsible for the platform in the office.

"Our platform aims to help residents quickly confirm what online information is fake and clear up rumors quickly," said Qi Shan, director of the government issues department at Sogou, China's third-largest search engine and a member of the alliance.

Integrating information can stop fake information from being repeatedly broadcast on the Internet and can help clean up the online environment, Qi said.

The platform was built on the Qianlong website and has four sections, including a part for exposing fake online information quickly and another for explaining related regulations.

As the biggest information provider, Sina Weibo, China's largest Twitter-like service, also shares its experience in fighting rumors

At the end of 2011, when many false rumors were spreading online, Sina's micro-blogging team had to deal with more than 4,000 fake information reports per day, according to Yin Xuegeng, an employee of the company.

But after rules were issued and a reporting system built, the number of reports has decreased to 400, Yin said.

(China Daily 03/09/2014 page5)