Leading Chinese microblogging platforms Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo have temporarily stopped users from posting comments. The two companies announced today that they have temporarily suspended comment function in order to clean up rumors, while authorities have arrested six people for spreading rumors of a military incident in Beijing, following the sacking of the Chongqing’s mayer. 16 other websites have also been shut down, showing the government’s determination to control discussion about the recent political disturbance …
On Saturday morning, many Chinese internet users found they were not able to post comments in reply to others’ entries on Sina Weibo, the largest microblogging service in the country, and rival platform Tencent Weibo. The two platforms posted bulletins on their homepages saying the spreading of rumors and illegal information will harm the social harmony in China. The comment system would be disabled between 31 March and 3 April for a ‘clean-up’, which could act to stop the spread of rumors. According to local news agency report, the two websites had been ‘criticized and punished accordingly’.
China will begin a once-in-a-decade leadership change later this year. Chongqing’s mayer, one of the main contenders for promotion, has just been sacked, suggesting a fierce fight behind the scenes for control of the ruling Communist Party. Chinese censors had previously blocked searches on various sites for terms linked to this incident. In the end, Chinese police have arrested six people after rumors were spread that military vehicles were on the streets of Beijing, which associated to “something big was happening in the capital of China”.
The suspension aroused fierce complaint among Chinese internet users. Some users said it is nonsense to use Weibo without being able to comment, while others sarcastically called the move an early April Fool’s Day joke. Kai-fu Lee, the founding president of Google China encouraged users to send private messages or forward messages instead of posting comments.
The recent internet rumors have certainly upset China’s top leadership. The authorities considered those rumor are damaging enough to take the extreme action. Previously, CEO of Sina said that microblog discussions and influential users can impact the way politics is conducted in China. True to his words. Microblogging sites are perhaps the only area in which Chinese people could freely express their views. But China is still a communist country with no democracy, the government is always freaked out any disclosed which influence their conducting politics. Last year, CEO of Tencent has told foreign media that his company will back up China’s Internet censorship. For now, it looks like the real name registration policy is not enough to control the booming social network in China. The Chinese authorities are taking a further step to stop online user making irresponsible remark on the country’s development.
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