China Voice: Recognize harm of online rumors   2012-04-16 16:25:45

BEIJING, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Although the rapid development of the Internet has brought conveniences and efficiency to information exchanges, it has also given speed to the spread of rumors.

Society should remain on high alert against the exponential growth of online rumors as the harm could be huge.

Online rumors are usually created to defame someone or to spread false information about public events. These rumors not only infringe upon others' interests, but also pose a threat to social stability, said a People's Daily article published on Monday.

Rumors that target celebrities, social ethics and basic social systems could be the most harmful, as they undermine public confidence in the government, society and political system.

They can cause serious ideological confusion and affect people's confidence in China's reform and development process.

The Chinese government recently initiated a thunderous campaign to clean up fabricated online information on microblogs after rumors stirred worries about the country's political situation.

Last month, police in Beijing detained six people for allegedly fabricating and spreading rumors about "military vehicles entering Beijing" and something "wrong" happening in the capital.

The People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, on Monday listed 10 "infamous" rumors that have caused major social panics in recent years.

One of the rumors was that an online post complaining of "a salt shortage" after a tsunami crippled Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, triggering panic buying and table salt hoarding across China amid radiation fears.

The "salt" farce not only affected market order and people's lives, but also became an "international joke" that damaged the national image, the newspaper said.

China is at a stage of rapid social transformation, and social problems and contradictions are frequently emerging. Online rumors fabricate, exaggerate or distort events by exploiting public hatred toward graft, uneven income distribution and the abuse of public rights, and some people have vented their negative emotions by passing on these rumors.

Therefore, clearing up the roots and causes of these rumors is crucial to curbing rumors online.

Truth is the enemy of rumor. Authorities should release information with detailed facts immediately after rumors begin to circulate.

Editor: Mo Hong'e
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