China: No Rumor Tolerance

China: No Rumor Tolerance

China has taken a strict stand against Internet users for posting what the government deems as irresponsible rumors. Defamatory messages are considered serious if they have a certain about of views or shares and the new rules prohibit blackmail, extortion, and argumentative or provoking language and actions. The Chinese government has been engaged in an anti-rumor campaign for much of 2013 and this seems like the first actionable step in the government creating a matrix to indict Internet users who are found to be spreading slanderous rumors.

It is nothing new that China censors the Internet by blocking access to websites with pornography, gambling and content critical of the Communist Party. This certainly presents impediments of freedom of speech and expression, but more concerning is the lack of definition in the law for what constitutes a rumor and thus the problems for enforcing such. The real concern based on the present judicial clarification is that the concept of rumor is not defined at all and thereby sets up any “message” published on the Internet be it true, partially true or false, will be prohibited merely on the nature of it’s “viralness.” Chinese media on the other has not been punished for wrongly reporting or “rumor mongering” as many would call it.

Sources:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/09/10/221111680/beijing-to-crack-down-on-social-media-slanderous-rumors

http://www.voanews.com/content/china-publishes-new-online-rumor-guidelines/1746378.html

http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/2013/09/11/whats-a-rumor-government-guidelines-face-scrutiny-in-china/

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