China's MPS Urges Use of Microblogs as a Work Tool

China’s microblogs have frequently been a platform for citizens to express discontent and dissent. However, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security has announced that Chinese police should also actively expand their use of microblogs, as “a channel for interacting with the public, releasing correct and authorized information to dispel misunderstandings, and serving the people.” From China Daily:

Huang Ming, vice minister of public security, said that police should use microblogs as a channel for interacting with the public, releasing correct and authorized information to dispel misunderstandings, and serving the people.

Huang’s remark was made during a two-day nationwide seminar convened by the MPS, with the focus on how to use new social networking sites, such as microblogs, to improve police work.

Huang urged police at all levels to expand the openness of police work,maintain an inclusive and equal attitude toward critics, and respond to people’s concerns with objectivity and justice.

China’s public security organs have so far opened more than 4,000 official microblogs at weibo.com, a leading microblog platform in China,and about 5,000 police officers nationwide have registered personal microblogs with their real identities verified, the MPS said.

This move may be yet another attempt by the Chinese government to censor activity in the microblogging community. From Reuters:

More Chinese police should use microblogs to give the public “correct” facts and release authorized information to dispel misunderstandings, the Ministry of Public Security said on Monday, in a new effort to counter critics of the government.

Chinese officials have voiced worries about the feverish growth of microblogs, also known as “tweets”, which can be used to spread information and comments unwelcome to the ruling Communist Party’s censors.

Police forces should set up “new platforms to guide public opinion, further pay attention to hot topics people are talking about on the Internet, and use correct, authoritative, transparent news to answer people’s concerns in a timely way, clarify facts and clear up misunderstandings”.

Chinese microblogs carry plenty of celebrity gossip and harmless fare. But they also offer forums for lambasting officials and reporting unrest or official abuses, and Beijing is worried about their potential to erode the party’s authority and stoke popular discontent, even protest.

September 26, 2011, 1:11 PM
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