Many of the major micro blogging sites in China have turned off their comments sections after they were punished for spreading rumors of an attempted coup in Beijing. The report comes from Xinhua, which is China’s state run media. Two Chinese versions of Twitter, Weibo and QQ will stop allowing users to post comments on the sites in order to stop the spread of illegal information and rumors. Xinhua reports that the comments sections are to return on Tuesday. The sites have been “punished accordingly” said officials in Guangdong and Beijing.
There were also sixteen websites that were closed down. Six people have been arrested for starting and spreading rumors that there were tanks entering Beijing. Xinhua also reported that the police in Beijing said that there were others who were “admonished and educated.”
The internet in China has been blazing with rumors about a possible coup attempt since Bo Xilai was dismissed as a Community Party politburo member. Any online discussion about Bo has since been blocked and censored. A profession of journalism at Guangzhou’s Sun Yat-sen University, Zhang Zhi An, said that the actions by the Chinese government are not surprising. He said that the information that was appearing online indicates that there could be a fight going on in the Communist Party and that is not something that the government wants its citizens to know.
In 2009, the government closed dozens of micro blogging sites, but Weibo and QQ are emerging has the primary networks now. Officials have worried that these types of sites could be used as a starting point for protests and demonstrations. In an effort to stop people from posting false information, the government now requires that all users on the micro blogging sites to register using their real names. That new policy went into effect on March 16, but only 19 million people of the 300 million users on Weibo had added their real names to their accounts.