The Chinese Government has decided that anything other than the ‘official’ line on the Coronavirus is “fake news” and anyone spreading such fake news will be ‘invited’ to spend 3 – 7 years in the slammer.

I don’t suppose that WeChat has ever held itself out as a champion of free speech, so it is not surprising that they will back this government edict with limiting or blocking accounts. After all, if it is good enough for the free and liberal west; Facebook, Twitter and Google, to censor then why would we hold WeChat to a higher standard?

WeChat Security Center: Limited or permanent ban on accounts that spread rumors of the epidemic.

On January 25, the WeChat Security Center issued the “Announcement on the Special Control of Rumors Related to New Coronavirus Pneumonia”. The “Announcement” stated that the new type of coronavirus pneumonia is continuing to spread throughout the country, causing widespread concern in the society. At the same time, all kinds of “rumored” and “heared” rumors and information continue to stimulate everyone’s panic. The “Criminal Law Amendment (9)” clearly stipulates: “The fabrication of false dangers, epidemics, disasters, and police information is spread on information networks or other media, or it is known that such false information is intentionally spread on information networks or other media. Those who seriously disrupt the social order shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment, detention or control of less than 3 years; if they cause serious consequences, they shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of 3 to 7 years. “

WeChat will resolutely and continuously crack down on rumor-like information. At present, professional third-party rumor removal agencies have been introduced to rumor rumors on the platform; and in accordance with relevant national laws and regulations and the Tencent WeChat Software License and Service Agreement, WeChat Personal Account Use Specifications, and other relevant agreement specifications, the content of violations of information Deletion processing, and stepped punishment of violating accounts according to the degree of violation: including, but not limited to, limiting or permanently blocking accounts or account functions.

WeChat will set up a special group to clean up rumors related to “new coronavirus pneumonia” and continue to strengthen the rectification. Tencent’s authenticity verification platform will also conduct real-time rumors about new coronavirus pneumonia; users are also welcome to complain about related rumors. WeChat Safety Center reminds: Be extra calm and rational before the epidemic situation. Users should learn about the epidemic information from disease control or medical institutions and authoritative news media. The relevant epidemic prevention information is subject to the official website of the provincial and municipal health and health committees. Do not listen to rumors and increase Unnecessary psychological burden, do not believe rumors, do not spread rumors, improve alertness and recognition.

Google translated

Even criticising the government’s response to the Coronavirus outbreak is a violation of the law and they have already arrested social media users for spreading “false information without verification.”

The fact that the officials sat on and attempted to suppress any information about the outbreak is bad enough and now China’s government is more concerned about keeping information from spreading rather than keeping the disease from spreading.

I have a vague memory of some other information that could have informed a debate about the motivation for someone’s actions being suppressed as well. It was in a supposedly free western democracy somewhere … oh yes, New Zealand, wasn’t it?

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