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Government Cracks Down on Organized Online Rumormongering

“秦火火” is advertising to attract fans on the subway.

“秦火火” is advertising to attract fans on the subway.

From QQ:

Suspects Started Rumors that Lei Feng’s Life Was Extravagant and Li Shuangjiang’s Son isn’t His Own

Xinhuanet Beijing, August 20 News (reported by Zou Wei, Shi Jingnan) — These days, the fabrication and spreading of rumors and similar illegal activities on the internet are rampant and the masses of ordinary common people are intensely calling for the chaotic internet to be put in order. According to leads provided by the masses of ordinary common people, the Ministry of Public Security has deployed public security organizations nationwide to conduct a special operation, concentrating on cracking down on organized fabrication and spreading of rumors and similar illegal offenses.

Recently, Beijing police, in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Security and in accordance with reports by the masses, began prosecution according to the law to bring down an internet marketing company that deliberately manufactures and disseminates rumors maliciously infringing upon other people’s reputations in order to illegally reap economic benefit — Beijing Erma Interactive Marketing Planning Limited Company (hereinafter referred to as Erma Ltd), and has arrested Qin Zhihui (online name “秦火火” [literally “Qin Hot Hot”, suggesting the ability to make things popular], male, 30 years old, born in Hunan Province Hengnan County Xianghua Village, high school education, and former Erma Ltd employee), Yang Xiuyu (online name “立二拆四” [literally “erect two demolish four”], male, 40 years old, born in Jilin Province Baishan City Qidaojiang Town, and founder of Erma Ltd), and another 4 members of the company.

According to the investigating police officers, not long ago, information that severely slandered the image of Lei Feng quickly spread on the internet, causing some netizens to question Lei Feng’s brilliant image. Many netizens called Beijing public security organs, asking for a thorough investigation of the rumor-monger responsible for defaming Lei Feng’s image. Beijing police immediately got to work, and through a meticulous investigation, a “秦火火” and “立二拆四” led internet marketing company that specialized in using the internet to plan and create online controversy, deliberately creating and spreading rumors maliciously damaging other people’s reputations in order to illegally make exorbitant profits emerged.

Qin Zhihui.
Web Celebrity “秦火火” [“Qin Hot Hot”] Qin Zhihui

Police discovered during the investigation that in order to increase their internet popularity and influence and illegally make even more profit, Qin, Yang, and the other people involved planned and created step-by-step a series of popular online events, attracting fans/followers, causing themselves to quickly become internet celebrities. After the “7.23” train accident, they deliberately fabricated and propagated the rumor that the Chinese government spent an astronomical sum of 200 million yuan compensating foreign national tourists [on the train], which had been forwarded/reposted 12k times within 2 hours, provoked discontent amongst the people against the government. [They] fabricated the notion of Lei Feng having lived an extravagant/luxurious life, befouling the image of this model of morality image as one that was completely manufactured by the government. [They] exploited the hyped up “Guo Meimei showing off wealth incident” and fabricated the rumor that certain local civil servants were forced to donate to the Red Cross, maliciously attacking China’s charity and emergency relief system/institution. [They] fabricated that Zhang Haidi, Chairman of the Disabled Federation of China had acquired Japanese nationality. [And they also] targeted famous military experts, senior media reporters, public figures, and some ordinary people in their attacks, fabricating stories out of nothing, maliciously making rumors to smear and slander.

According to police officers working on the case, Qin, Yang and the other people involved formed an internet marketing team, colluding long-term with a small number of so-called “opinion leaders” and organized online “water armies” in concocting fake news, intentionally distorting facts, creating disturbances, confusing right and wrong, inverting black and white; illegally profiting by deleting posts to help other people avoid problems, tracing IP addresses, and similar methods, severely disturbed internet social order. Their actions is is suspected of falling within the crime of creating disturbance and illegal business operations. Qin Zhihui and Yang Xiuyu have both openly confessed to their illegal criminal activities. Currently, both of them have been criminally detained in accordance with the law by Beijing police.

According to a relevant representative of the Beijing City Public Security Bureau, cyber space is a public place, and cyber society is a legal society, where netizens must follow the law and abide by the law. Public security organs will crack down and punish in accordance with the law any organized rumor-mongering cyber crimes. [He] hopes that the masses of netizens will uphold the law and the moral bottom line during online activities, firmly resist and proactively report rumor-mongering, rumor-spreading and any other lawbreaking activities, and collectively maintain a healthy, orderly online environment and social order.

“秦火火” is advertising to attract fans on the subway.
“秦火火” soliciting Weibo followers on the subway.

Suspects once created rumor that Li Shuangjiang’s son isn’t his own

Content: “秦火火” weibo: In 1990, Meng Ge and Li Shuangjiang got married. Because they were separated by 27 years of age and with Meng Ge still being a graduate student at the People’s Liberation Army Art Academy forcing her to take an absence from school for a year due to pregnancy, controversy arose. Meng Ge became pregnant in 1990, so the latest she would’ve gave birth to Li Tianyi would’ve been 1991. So Li Tianyi should be 22 years old now, an adult.

Reason for creating this rumor: “秦火火” confessed that the whole event was fabricated by him from information he gathered on the internet. “秦火火” claims he learned from searches on Baidu Baike and Wikipedia that Li Tianyi was born in 1991. “So I started to think, how could he still be considered a minor? And I remembered reading that Meng Ge said her son was born in 1991.” Besides that, “秦火火” confessed that he compared pictures of Li Shuangjiang and Li Tianyi and found that they didn’t look alike, so he thought Li Tianyi wasn’t Li Shuangjiang’s biological son, so he posted their pictures online for others to judge for themselves.

[…]

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Comments from QQ:

腾讯宁波市网友 /pj布鲁斯-李:

Transmit/spread positive energy, purifying the social atmosphere! Ren Zhiqiang [a Chinese property tycoon] has multiple times now publicly created rumors that housing price would go up. And as a result, housing prices have continuously increased, seriously disturbing the economy and stability of society. People all over the country know this…

腾讯扬州市网友 守护者:

I just saw his repulsive face on TV just now, and felt a certain feeling of being deceived and cheated. I’ve forwarded/reposted and propagated [his rumors] before, which made me an accessory to the spreading of rumors on the internet. This bastard is also a big conman in real life. The speed of the Chinese government’s response was also too slow, with the bureaucracy insisting on waiting until rumors are flying everywhere and the people’s minds all muddled before doing something. It’s exactly the same as how international negative public opinion is led by the nose by the West. Always reacting passively. The ideological organizations of our country should organize and make a documentary exposing the West’s exploitative nature and true essence of Western democracy. Don’t let the truth be limited to only those in the high levels of society/government. The intellectual level of the people nowadays are not the same as decades ago. When it comes to people of such low character who have so [negatively] influenced the nation’s people, they should be severely punished.

腾讯网友 沧海一粒粟:

Not just Lei Feng, now for the sake of clicks, attracting eyeballs, and getting paid by foreign employers, people even spread gossip about leader Mao Zedong and ancient hero Yue Fei as official history. Next it’ll be Bao Qingtian Bao Zheng. In short, they simply want to ruin destroy China’s national spirit or get eyeballs, clicks, and money from overseas.

腾讯网友 四海匹夫:

Seeing the Guo Meimei incident described as having been hyped up, I shivered~

腾讯青岛市网友 胸怀天下:

The internet has become a new living environment and being on the internet requires you, me, and everyone else to use some real wisdom [intelligence, critical thinking], otherwise one may very likely be flushed away and played for fools by the waves of rumors.

腾讯网友 消失嘚美俪:

This should’ve been viciously cracked down upon long ago, then the internet wouldn’t be as chaotic/messed up as it is. But now is not too late either. so arrest some more, punish some more, and punish them harshly, so no one will no longer dare to be so wanton/reckless.

腾讯网友 ジ觉☆悟ミ:

Yang “立二” is finally caught, and that’s a good thing. This guy’s methods for creating hype are extremely dirty, with no moral integrity at all.

腾讯昆明市网友 鱼也:

What’s real can’t be made fake, and what’s fake can’t be made real! Look at the people around you and you’ll know! Are the ordinary common people all fools?

腾讯南宁市网友 鸡不鸣叫不睡:

Firmly crack down on this kind of intentional dissemination of rumors to poison the hears of the people criminal behavior. There are too many rumors on the internet right now! Most of them are against the Party and against the system and there are definitely foreign powers behind the scenes responsible for them, and some people blindly go along with them! The stability of the nation is paramount to all else, because a nation in unrest is no longer a nation!

腾讯网友 C.O.M.W:

There sure are a TM lot of people without brains. [Referring to suspicions about the authenticity of Lei Feng’s reputation, such as Chinese netizen 爱新觉罗铁蛋’s comment below] I once participated in a competition and if it were like it is nowadays, every competitor would be photographed participating in the competition. But back then, in order to save film, only after the top 3 people had emerged would competition reenactment photos be taken. As for Lei Feng, he had done the deeds [he’s known for], but reenactment photos were taken subsequently simply to make the publicity/propaganda more effective, to give everyone a visual; it was just a method of publicity/propaganda. Some people intentionally twist the facts, while some people are deliberately being nao can, so just institute a real-name registration system [for the internet], so we can see just who these clowns are.

Comments from NetEase 1 & 2:

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网易泰国手机网友 ip:49.49.*.*:

“Many netizens called Beijing public security organs, asking for a thorough investigation of the rumor-monger responsible for defaming Lei Feng’s image.“

温柔的网友 [网易北京市网友]:

Build a harmonious internet, resist rumors. Go China.

深山枪 [网易广东省深圳市网友]:

Those who spread rumors should be arrested, and those who speak the truth should be protected!

爱新觉罗铁蛋 [网易山东省青岛市手机网友]:

Where did Lei Feng’s photos come from? Why are there so many?

网易新疆乌鲁木齐市手机网友 ip:222.82.*.*:

A good crackdown! These utterly immoral, self-serving cynics.

彪悍小南瓜 [网易山东省泰安市网友]:

After cracking down on the internet marketers, the crackdown on internet whistle-blowers begins.

山西乔 [网易北京市网友]:

In the future when seeing similar information on the internet, don’t carelessly forward/repost them again, to avoid being exploited by cheats like this!

北叔 [网易河北省唐山市手机网友]:

So chaotic. The new vice minister [of the PSB, Fu Zhenghua] assumes office and immediately takes on the Guo Meimei typical case, striking against online rumors. Very powerful. I support/approve.

网易北京市网友 ip:114.255.*.*:

I think the laws and regulations concerning the internet should be strengthened. After all, it’s the internet age now, and main source of information relies on the internet, with safety of the internet being especially important.

网易广东省东莞市网友 ip:27.37.*.*:

Support/approve!!! Resolutely crack down on online rumormongers.

What do you think? About increased government attention and action targeting rumors and misinformation on the internet?

Written by Peter Barefoot

Peter is a born and raised Chengdunese who enjoys drinking with all his friends.

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