State media have reported that people recently punished in China’s campaign against online rumors include those who circulated an inflated death toll in the Tianjin blasts and who alleged a man committed suicide because of the country’s stock market woes.
The official Xinhua News Agency said Monday that 197 people have been punished in a special campaign, citing the Public Security Ministry, but did not say over what period.
Authorities over the past two years have waged a campaign to purge rumormongering from the Chinese Internet, saying that unethical and unbecoming behavior online needs to be wiped out. Critics say the campaign also is aimed at suppressing criticism of the ruling Communist Party.
Xinhua cited the ministry as saying 165 online accounts were closed in the campaign’s latest phase.
Meanwhile, a Chinese financial journalist has “confessed” to causing “panic and disorder” on China’s stock market and inflicting “huge losses on the country”.
Caijing magazine’s Wang Xiaolu reportedly confessed that his reporting “seriously undermined the market confidence, and inflicted huge losses on the country and investors”.
The state news Xinhua said Mr Wang confessed that he “wrote fake report on Chinese stock market based on hearsay and his own subjective guesses without conducting due verifications”.
The magazine, however, has stood by its staff, saying it “defended journalists’ rights to do their duty under the law” in a statement.
Wang’s detention and “confession” sparked widespread consternation on Twitter:
— Mei Fong/ 方凤美 (@foongmei) August 30, 2015
Urh, what? Caijing reporter’s TV confession for negative mkt story: I gathered info privately, which was not right. pic.twitter.com/M4fWVYMLjZ
— Zijing (@zijing_wu) August 31, 2015
Additional reporting from Associated Press