Arrests, warnings as China targets rumormongering [China Daily: Hong Kong Edition]
(China Daily: Hong Kong Edition Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) BEIJING - Chinese police have arrested four people on suspicion of fabricating and spreading rumors on the Internet as authorities tighten regulation of instant messaging services.
The four people may face defamation charges, which under Chinese law are levelled against those whose posts are deemed to be rumors and are viewed by more than 5,000 users or retweeted more than 500 times.
Defamation charges can lead to up to three years in prison or loss of political rights.
Police have also detained or warned another 81 people for similar but slighter offences, they said on Saturday, without detailing when any of these actions were taken. Meanwhile, 16 websites have also been punished for "weak safety management."
These people used social network services to fabricate and spread rumors, or forward rumors published on foreign websites, according to police. The reports included predictions of an earthquake in Beijing within two to six days and gunshots having been heard in the west of the Chinese capital.
China has required users of instant messaging services to use their real names when registering since Thursday, in an effort to hold users responsible for content they send out.
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