Shanghai cyberspace regulator dismisses epidemic-related rumors, calls for punishment on perpetrators
Published: Apr 08, 2022 01:12 PM
Residents receive COVID-19 nulecic acid test in Shanghai on April 4. Photo: VCG

Shanghai residents receive COVID-19 nucleic acid test on April 4, 2022. Photo: VCG

Shanghai cyberspace regulator on Friday urged cracking down on rumors on social media related to the epidemic, especial in Weixin chat groups. This comes as the city is struggling to control the current COVID-19 outbreak. 

Despite the city's efforts to ensure residents' daily lives are running smoothly, malicious rumors related to the epidemic are still emerging. Rumors were spread on Thursday saying that Shanghai was about to start militarized management, and that each neighborhood would be guarded by two armed police officers. Shanghai authorities immediately refuted the false claims and asked residents not to believe or spread the false information.

Shanghai police have launched an investigation into a 35-year-old man on suspicion of disturbing public order by spreading the rumors, Shanghai authorities said Friday.

The Shanghai Post Administration on Tuesday dismissed rumors that the resurgence of COVID-19 in Shanghai started with virus-contaminated parcels. The administration said all parcels arriving in Shanghai are disinfected prior to delivery.

The local authorities reported on Wednesday that a 40-year-old man boasted on Weixin that he could get a special pass for delivery services for others. His behavior led to a negative social impact and the case is still under investigation. The authorities stressed that people who forge, buy or sell special passes will be punished.

The Shanghai Internet Information Office reminded social media group hosts and members to abide by the law. In particular, under the current epidemic situation, it is necessary to prevent the spread of rumors and false information which could cause panic, the office said. 

The internet is not a lawless place, the regulator said, noting the office will continue to refute rumors in a quick manner and punish those who intentionally create and spread rumors. Social media groups that maliciously spread rumors will also be dealt with in accordance with the law, it said.

Gu Jun, a Shanghai-based sociology expert, told the Global Times that it's good for the Shanghai authorities to respond to the rumors as quickly as possible and provide more accessible channels for local residents to reflect problems. 

The relevant judicial interpretation of the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate also clearly stipulates that those who fabricate information or intentionally spread false information and cause serious social disorder shall be convicted and punished for the crime of picking quarrels and provoking trouble.