China continues to crackdown on people that it claims spread "rumors" online.
Internet marketer Yang Xiuyu was sentenced to 4 years in jail and fined $24,400 Nov. 18 in Beijing for "rumor-mongering." Prosecutors said Yang and Lu Mei, another employee of Beijing Erma, made fake online publicity stunts for clients, but portrayed them as real. Lu was imprisoned for 1.5 years and fined about $5,000.
Blogger Dong Rubing, aka "Bianmin," was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison and fined 350,000 RMB ($56,466) by a Chinese court on July 23 for "illegal business operations" and spreading "rumors" online. Hou Peng, the general manager of Dong's Internet company, was sentenced to three years.
Dong has on multiple occasions called out the Chinese government over scandals, including the death a prisoner in 2009 and during protests against a proposed chemical plant in 2013. His office was raided in 2013, after which he was detained and "confessed" on state television.
A Beijing court sentenced blogger Qin Zhihui to 3 years in jail on April 17 for "rumor-mongering" about celebrities and officials. He had the first public trial for China's Internet rumor law. It came on the same day that microblogging service Weibo went public in the U.S.
A ruling by China's top court in Sept. 2013 said that people who post false rumors that are read 5,000 times or reposted 500 times on social media sites will face prosecution for defamation and could spend three years in prison.
Copyright 2014 Reuters
Zhang Chunxian, Communist Party secretary for Xinjiang province, said on March 6 that "90% of Xinjiang's terrorism" comes from virtual private networks (VPNs) accessing videos blocked by China's "Great Firewall" Internet censorship technologies.
Copyright 2014 Reuters
American venture capitalist Charles Xue was released from detention on April 16 after being held since Aug. 2013. Xue, who has 12 million Weibo followers, gave a "confession" on Chinese state TV in Sept. 2013, saying, "My irresponsibility in spreading information online was a vent of negative mood."
"[They were] deliberately creating a panicked mood and disturbing social order, and will be dealt with according to the law and punished by public security."
A PSB statement on March 6 said that 45 people had been detained or warned for spreading rumors regarding a deadly knife attack. Some of the microbloggers singled out were well-known figures who questioned the media narrative of the attacks. Others speculated on the ethnicity of the attackers.
"The post was spread widely among netizens and aroused panic among the public."
A man surnamed Zhou from Hubei province was arrested for posting a "rumor" on the messaging app WeChat, said Chinese state media on Feb. 12. Authorities accused Zhou of spreading a rumor about a doctor that had died of the H7N9 bird flu strain in Hubei, even though health officials say no cases have been reported.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on March 11 released its annual "Enemies of the Internet" report for 2014. The group highlighted China's State Internet Information Office as one of the world's "most sophisticated" censorship mechanisms. RSF said China had at least 70 people currently in jail due to their online activities.
"Some people are using [WeChat] to disseminate negative or illegal harmful information to the public, seriously damaging the Internet system and hurting public interest, causing dissatisfaction among Internet users."
China on May 27 once again said that it would crackdown on WeChat and similar messaging services, although it is unclear how authorities plan to do so. They have asked for tips from the public. "Violence, terrorism and pornography" were listed as "key targets" of the crackdown.