China detains four WeChat users for spreading false rumours about earthquakes

The Chinese Ministry of Public Security has been investigating the crimes of spreading rumours online and charity fraud in the past few days in the wake a magnitude 7.0 earthquake which killed 19 people in Sichuan province. Eight of the dead were tourists and an additional 247 people were reported injured.

According to the ministry, rumours have been spread online which said other earthquakes had hit different areas of China; as a result they have caused social panic and harmed social stability. It has also put four people under administrative detention for rumour mongering on the messenger app, WeChat. The ministry has said that it welcomes any reports from the public about users that spread rumours pertaining to fake earthquakes.

In advice to internet users, the ministry has given instructions not to create, believe, or pass on rumours. In addition to rumours, the ministry has launched an investigation into charity fraud which has been taking advantage of people willing to part with cash in order to aid the earthquake victims.

A few days ago, we reported that the Cyberspace Administration of China had put several social media platforms, including WeChat, under investigation for facilitating the sharing of illicit content including rumours; it's unclear if those incidents are related to the earthquake.

Source: People’s Daily | Image via Wikimedia

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