China Group Says US Uses Facebook to Sow Unrest

From AP:

According to a report released this week by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the sites also harbor an external threat. Social networking sites threaten state security because the U.S. and other Western countries are using them to foment instability, said the report, titled “Development of China’s New Media.”

“We must pay attention to the potential risks and threats to state security as the popularity of social networking sites continues to grow,” the report said. “We must immediately step up supervision of social networking sites.”

It cited unnamed U.S. officials as saying that social networking is an “invaluable tool” for overthrowing foreign governments. A comment by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates that new communication technology is a “huge strategic asset” was also given as an example of the U.S. threat.

The report noted how Facebook and other social networking sites were used as tools of “political subversion” in the mass protests following the Iranian elections last year. They also played a role in the violence in China’s far-western region of Xinjiang last summer that left some 200 people dead, the report said, noting some online groups overseas had issued calls for independence for the traditionally Muslim area.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing declined to comment on the specifics of the report because he had not seen it, but said the U.S. viewed freedom of expression as a “universal human right.”