1,894 online accounts punished for spreading misinformation

1,894 online accounts punished for spreading misinformation

A total of 1,894 online accounts have been punished for being found to be making and spreading false information on the subject of a missing student, China’s top internet regulator said on Sunday.

Since Hu Xinyu, a 15-year-old boy from a residential school in Jiangxi province, went missing in October, information about him and the local police investigation have hit media headlines, with huge attention pouring into the case online was brought

Before Hu’s suicide on February 2, after his body was discovered in the forest near Zhiyuan Senior High School on January 28, rumors about the case were rampant online, “seriously misleading the public and having a negative effect on society brought”. Cyberspace Administration of China said in a statement.

The administration quickly urged major Internet platforms, including Sina Weibo, Douyin and Kuaishou, to investigate their accounts and punish people who spread false information, the statement said.

In a release from Sina Weibo, a Chinese Twitter-like platform, more than 3,500 pieces of false information about the case have been dealt with, with 138 relevant accounts penalized, including account closure or banning from posting for a a few days.

The administration also listed and disclosed details of those spreading misinformation in the statement, such as those who made up the reason for Hu’s disappearance by saying he was involved in organ trafficking or sent by the school to be tested because of his rare blood type and those who impersonated Hu’s relatives by posting videos.

In addition, accounts that falsified information about the investigation developments and used the incident to incite online chaos were also combated by the internet platforms, according to the statement.

The administration said, “The rumormongers who interfere with cyberspace have not only defied the bottom line of social morality, but have also violated laws, so they must be punished without tolerance.”

Urging netizens to improve the ability to distinguish truth from misinformation online, it also encouraged them to provide rumour-related leads and report incidents to help clean up cyberspace.

The administration has stepped up efforts to fight rumors in recent years, making it a priority in its annual work.

In September, for example, it launched a special campaign against misinformation, requiring local cyberspace departments to pay more attention to removing false posts involving heroes, martyrs, disasters and livelihoods.

It also required internet platforms to detect accounts posting or forwarding rumors by optimizing technological measures, requiring websites to flag misinformation in a timely manner after identification.

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