Chinese authorities have detained two Internet users for allegedly spreading rumors about the new bird flu virus on the nation’s top Twitter-like microblogging site, Sina Weibo.
The two Internet users, surnamed Li and Gong, deliberately created the online rumors as a way to draw attention, according to a Thursday posting from China’s State Internet Information Office.
Chinese police will detain Li for five days, and Gong for 10. In addition, authorities have shut down over 20 accounts on Sina Weibo belonging to the two Internet users and several others.
Sina Weibo is one of China’s most popular social networking sites, with over 503 million registered accounts. But authorities regularly censor information on the site, deleting posts that deal with anti-government topics or cover sensitive subjects. In some instances, Chinese police have gone as far as arresting users for spreading alleged online rumors.
Currently, a small number of users are spreading rumors on Sina Weibo in the guise of dispelling lies, according to the China’s State Internet Information Office. In response, authorities are increasing efforts to crack down on the rumors.
Both Li and Gong are from China’s Guizhou province, located in the country’s southwest. No confirmed bird flu cases have yet to be reported in the province as of May 1, according to the World Health Organization. In total, more than 126 bird flu cases have been found in China, mostly in the eastern part of the country. 24 deaths have been recorded.