State controlled national television station China Central Television (CCTV), prompted outrage amongst netizens recently with a program entitled ‘Where is the moral bottom line of Microblogs?‘ [zh], broadcast by the channel on August 3, 2011,
Microblogging in China refers to sites such as Sina Weibo [zh] and Twitter, through which news, photos and videos, can be uploaded and shared by anyone. CCTV attacked the credibility of these sites’ so called “yellow journalism”, suggesting that they were major sources of rumor, fraud and marketing, masquerading as legitimate news.
The program also praised the efforts of an online group called the ‘Coalition Against Rumors’ (@piyaolianmeng) [zh], which was initiated by @douhanzhang [zh], an editor at the online public opinion research center of the Communication University of China [zh] – the training center for the 50 Cent Party. [The 50 Cent Party refers to online commentators who actively shape and sway public opinion on the Internet].
Coalition against rumors?
@piyaolianmeng has indeed done some good work in collating information regarding online rumors and frauds. Its latest micro-blog is about a fraud surrounding the death of a newborn baby in the Wenzhou train crash.
However, founder of online shopping website 6688.com and prominent blogger, @laorong, took some screen captures of a recent online discussion by members of the @piyaolianmeng group on instant messenger program QQ, which shows that its main objective is to discredit prominent bloggers and online activists.
The influence of V users is huge, we need to target at clearing them. [V users have their identity verified by the hosting website.]
In the future, when there is an issue to follow up, we have to work together. Let's signal each other in the group, I will join in.
Right, rumors are always motivated by some larger political and social causes.
Being a coalition, we need more group combating activities.
We need to base on facts and target individuals, work out a style that is different from the current sick online culture.
We need evidence to crack @laorong [Lao rong is a prominent blogger and founder of 6688.com]
I suggest we choose more viable targets. Between @laorong and @lichengpeng, it is better to crack down @lichengpeng [Li Chengpeng is a prominent writer].
@lichengpeng is more influential.
@xjb is also disgusting [xjb is Beijing News' username at Weibo]
These rumor spreaders are ill-hearted.
@laorong is watched by the Apple guy [The Apple guy is @xzhang]
Big eye [@lichengpeng's nickname] is very witty, he seldom makes original posts. He just adds inciting comments in the re-post.
Let's work together and crack down on one of them.
Professor of the Communication Department in Shenzhen University, @imsunhaifeng[zh], re-posted [zh] the screen capture in his micro-blog and attracted more than 6,000 comments. Below is a selected translation of the comments:
@btchina01: Now that people have developed citizen consciousness, the ruler is also evolving. Instead of cheating people, they use common language to get close to you. Then a group of thugs appear and murder the opinion leader in order to defend the river crab.
Where is the moral bottom line of CCTV?
Bloggers are worried that the CCTV program marks a prelude to the tightening of censorship on microblogging platforms. Moreover, as a propaganda machine, netizens believe that CCTV tells more lies than ordinary people, which has many of them to raise the question: where is the moral bottom line of CCTV?