China is expected to launch a platform Thursday to curb the spread of rumors online, the official Global Times newspaper reported Wednesday. The platform, jointly created by China’s Ministry of Public Security and the popular microblogging website Sina Weibo, will release monthly reports related to the rumors.
With the help of the platform, internet users can send across links or upload screenshots of rumors they see on social media sites like Sina Weibo and other online forums, the paper reported.
“Starting a platform where rumors could be quickly quashed meets the netizens' need for sound information but also echoes President Xi Jinping’s call for a better internet environment,” Shen Yi, deputy director of the cyberspace management center of Fudan University, told the Global Times.
Sina Weibo reportedly said that its users’ accounts will be suspended if they spread false information across the internet and that police will look into these cases.
The country's public security ministry has reportedly told cyber police teams to identify “illegal and harmful information on the internet, deter and prevent cyber crimes and improper words and deeds online, publish case reports and act on information provided by the public.”
About 197 people were punished last year for posting rumors about stock market fluctuations and the August 2015 Tianjin explosions, which claimed lives of over 170 people. A 24-year-old internet user was reportedly detained in Beijing for saying that “at least 1,000 people were killed in the Tianjin blasts.”
Chinese authorities have been trying to take more control over internet usage in the country since Xi took over as the president in 2012. Often, authorities have used the rules on rumors to implicate those who voice their opinion against the government.