SHANGHAI Aug 15 A Chinese businessman has
confessed to posting false information online and deleting
critical microblog posts on behalf of corporate clients during a
trial in Beijing, the official Xinhua news service reported on
Friday, as a government crackdown on social media gathers speed.
According to the report, Yang Xiuyu, owner of media
marketing company Erma, confessed to paying staff to post false
information and delete critical online posts about clients in
exchange for over 530,000 yuan ($86,000) between 2008 and 2013.
He also confessed to making scandalous online content to
advertise products and promote clients, including a video that
purportedly showed a monk cavorting with two women which became
an online sensation.
Many Chinese companies have proven willing to pay to
manipulate the media to protect their reputations and to slander
competitors, a business opportunity that has been exploited both
by media companies, individual reporters and by entrepreneurs
Chinese financial regulators have also prosecuted
micro-bloggers who have spread false rumours about companies
online in order to damage their stock prices temporarily,
creating buying opportunities.
The Chinese government itself deletes online posts it deems
overly critical, blocks the accounts of political dissidents,
and hires microbloggers to post content favourable to government
The crackdown on social media, which has included the
requirement that users use their real names to register public
accounts on instant messaging tools and the detention of
hundreds of outspoken microbloggers, has had a chilling effect
both on political discourse and on user registrations at
messaging app companies.
Public account users must sign an agreement with the service
provider when they register, promising "to comply with the law,
the socialist system, the national interest, citizens' legal
rights, public order, social moral customs, and authenticity of
(1 US dollar = 6.1520 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Pete Sweeney; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)