China shuts 21,000 online accounts over rumormongering

Midsection of businessman holding mobile phone while using laptop in café. [Getty Images]

China's public security authorities have closed more than 21,000 online accounts involved in rumormongering as a nationwide campaign has come to a close.

The authorities have cracked more than 2,300 cases and removed over 705,000 pieces of fake information during a 100-day campaign to crack down on online rumormongering.

The Ministry of Public Security (MPS) said at a press conference on Friday that more than 620 suspects in over 130 cases were captured for online trolling.

The campaign was aimed at fostering a healthy cyberspace environment, the MPS said.

In January this year, Chinese authorities suspended social media accounts of more than 1,000 critics of the government’s policies on Covid-19 outbreak.

The popular Sina Weibo social media platform said it had addressed 12,854 violations including attacks on experts, scholars and medical workers and issued temporary or permanent bans on 1,120 accounts.

The criticism largely focused on heavy-handed enforcement of regulations, including open-ended travel restrictions that saw people confined to their homes for weeks, sometimes sealed inside without adequate food or medical care.

Anger was also vented over the requirement that anyone who potentially tested positive or had been in contact with such a person be confined for observation in a field hospital, where overcrowding, poor food and hygiene were commonly cited.

But in a statement, Sina Weibo said it would continue to increase the investigation and cleanup of all kinds of illegal content, and create a harmonious and friendly community environment for the majority of users.