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Weibo services 'punished' for Beijing coup rumors, comments temporarily disabled

Richard Lai, @richardlai
March 31, 2012
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For a country who doesn't really do April Fools' Day, you know China means business when it lays the smackdown on its weibo services. Here's the background story: about a week ago there was a rumor on the Chinese web about a military coup on one of the main streets in Beijing, and coincidentally I was in town around the time (for the Windows Phone launch). Funnily enough, I wasn't aware of this at all until my taxi driver in Hong Kong asked me about my visit, as he claimed that the passenger he picked up beforehand was actually a Chinese military officer who had several intense phone calls about said coup.

But of course, nothing actually happened. In fact, the guards at Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City were pretty relaxed when I visited on that very day. As for the rumormongers, the Chinese government announced through Xinhua that 16 websites have been shut down and six people have been detained, while local microblogging platforms Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo have been "criticized and punished accordingly," though it didn't elaborate on the details. All we know is that comments under each weibo post are now disabled until local time 8pm on April 3rd, during which these two companies can, in their own words, clean up the mess. Well, at least we now know where to draw the line for China's April Fools'.



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