China Internet Celebrities Shouldn’t Spread Rumors, Xinhua Says

China’s recent detention of several suspected online rumor-mongers helped protect the public from the negative effect of false information, the official Xinhua News Agency said today in an editorial.

Some social media users passed on and commented on sensational microblog feeds created by unknown people without checking the veracity of the claims, resulting in the spread of rumors among Internet users, the Xinhua editorial said.

These Internet celebrities, about 200 of whom have more than 10 million followers each on China’s popular Twitter-like Weibo services run by Sina Corp. and Tencent Holdings Ltd., can threaten privacy, harm reputations and disrupt social order by spreading online rumors, according to the Xinhua report.

Despite the right of liberal online speech, opinion leaders ought to “observe laws” and “safeguard the bottom-line of morality and authenticity of information” when re-tweeting unverified information, the Xinhua report said.