Baidu and Sina are among Chinese Internet companies that have jointly created a website for refuting rumors, the latest step in government efforts to increase scrutiny of information spread online

China Starts Website to Refute Rumors as Scrutiny Grows

Baidu Inc. (BIDU) and Sina Corp. (SINA) are among Chinese Internet companies that have jointly created a website for refuting rumors, the latest step in government efforts to increase scrutiny of information spread online.

The website officially began operations yesterday under the oversight of the Beijing Internet Information Office and the Beijing Internet Association, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Sohu.com Inc. (SOHU) and NetEase Inc. (NTES) also contributed to creating the site, which is hosted by Qianlong.com, a news portal controlled by the Beijing city government.The site refutes rumors collected from Twitter-like microblog services, news portals and other websites. One entry detailed the rumor a woman in the city of Qingdao was sent a kangaroo when she bought milk powder online from Australia. Qingdao police and customs officials were cited saying they’d never received reports of such an incident, according to the entry. Other rumors refuted include those of misconduct by government officials.

Social media sites including Sina Weibo have become the main platforms used by Chinese citizens to expose corruption and wrongdoing in a country where all newspapers, television and radio stations are state-owned. A vice chairman of China’s economic planning agency was fired in May after a Chinese journalist posted allegations of improper business dealings on his microblog.

“China is unique in that social media has become such an important venue for news,” said Doug Young, author of the book “The Party Line: How the Media Dictates Public Opinion in Modern China.” The rumor refuting website is the government’s attempt to have a voice in the information flow that can result in serious damage to reputations, he said.

Web Censorship

China censors the Internet by blocking access to websites with pornography, gambling and content critical of the Communist Party. Earlier measures to increase control over the spread of information online include rules requiring individuals to provide identification when signing up for Internet services and registering their real names when opening a microblog account.

The nation was home to more than 591 million web users at the end of June, according to the China Internet Network Information Center. That’s more than the population of any country except India.

“The government is quite annoyed about how the spread of information is getting out of control on microblogs, so they are stepping up control efforts,” said Wen Yunchao, a visiting scholar at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights. “Though there’s little use in this if people don’t believe in the government in the first place.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Lulu Yilun Chen in Hong Kong at ychen447@bloomberg.net

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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