Here’s a question for all the netizens in China: what do Internet rumors and cocaine have in common?
According to Chinese state media, they are, in fact, very similar.
China is ramping up its campaign against “unhealthy” information online, with a particular focus on the country’s hugely popular microblogs.
You may recall the government’s attempt to curb Internet rumors by urging microbloggers to use their real names back in October. It is now stepping up the efforts to wipe out Internet rumorville by publishing a series of rather strongly worded editorials in official media outlets.
Here’s one from Xinhua Online: Please Don’t Let Internet Rumors Poison Our Conscience (切莫让网络谣言毒害我们善良的心). Similarly, People’s Daily also ran an editorial titled “Online Rumors are Narcotics, Please Resist and Stay Away” (网络谣言是毒品, 请自觉抵制和远离).
The coordinated propaganda continues with more action-packed titles, such as Xinhua’s “Let Our Combination Punch Cut Internet Rumor’s Spreading Chain” (让“组合拳”斩断网络谣言的“传播链”), and People’s Daily’s “Give Online Rumor Spreaders a Fierce Head-On Attack” (对网络造谣传谣者就应当“迎头痛击”).
All of the commentaries emphasize the “addictive” and “damaging” nature of Internet rumors, which they say could be “no less (if not more) harmful than gambling, pornography and drugs.” The overriding message: netizens should have “zero tolerance” to uphold an orderly society.