Weibo Comments Suspended in Coup Rumour Aftermath (Updated)

Following rumours of a coup by allies of dethroned Chongqing Party chief Bo Xilai, Xinhua reported on Saturday that authorities have taken action against a number of websites and individuals involved in the rumours’ spread:

Chinese authorities closed 16 websites and detained six people responsible for “fabricating or disseminating online rumors,” the State Internet Information Office (SIIO) and Beijing police said Friday ….
An undisclosed number of people who had disseminated similar rumors on the Internet were also “admonished and educated,” who have shown intention to repent, the police said.
The SIIO spokesman also said with regard to a number of rumors having appeared on weibo.com [Sina Weibo] and t.qq.com [Tencent Weibo], the two popular microblogging sites have been “criticized and punished accordingly” by Internet information administration authorities in Beijing and Guangdong respectively.
The spokesman did not elaborate what the punishment was, but said the two websites had pledged to “strengthen the management.”

Part of their punishment now appears to be a three-day suspension of comments on both Sina and Tencent Weibo (making them “more like Twitter for 72 hours”, in the words of Baidu’s Kaiser Kuo). From The Wall Street Journal:

In notices on their websites, Sina and Tencent said the commenting shutdown would last until Tuesday morning, though they will still allow users to make original posts and to repost the posts of others. The companies didn’t say whether the government was involved in the matter. A Sina public-relations representative said the action was taken in response to a growing number of rumors and illegal information on its site recently, not because of a specific incident.

The Economist recently described China’s current approach to online rumour management as a blend of two historical examples:

In the year 15AD, during the short-lived Xin dynasty, a rumour spread that a

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6 Responses to Weibo Comments Suspended in Coup Rumour Aftermath (Updated)

  1. [...] Weibo Comments Suspended in Coup Rumour Aftermath [...]

  2. [...] Pretend Nothing Is Going on, starting with arrests of “rumormongers,” sanction of websites, and a three-day suspension of comments on Sina and Tencent Weibo. Weibo now feels unreal because of the absence of what people are dying to do—rumormongering. [...]

  3. [...] Weibo Comments Suspended in Coup Rumour Aftermath (Thanks to China Digital Times.) [...]

  4. [...] whole thirteen minutes. “What’s going on? Am I ‘sensitive’ all of a sudden?” she asked. Weibo Comments Suspended in Coup Rumour Aftermath (Updated) (China Digital Times, published March 31, [...]

  5. [...] netizens are quick to express their opinions on the new order on Sina Weibo and Tencent microblogging services that outlaws commenting, a key feature of the popular services. Below are three cartoons being spread around Chinese [...]

  6. [...] why the top two comments were so popular, and why the Chinese government has to sometimes take drastic action to curb rumours: when people start really caring about an issue, one of their first instincts is to [...]