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Chinese Man On Trial For Spreading False Rumors Online

Soulskill posted about 8 months ago | from the rumors-on-the-internet-surely-you-jest dept.

China 53

hackingbear writes: "Qin Zhihui, a user of the Chinese Twitter-like website Weibo, has confessed in court to spreading false rumors about the Chinese government in the first public trial under a Chinese crackdown on online rumors. China has threatened criminal penalties against anyone who spreads rumors on microblogs that are reposted more than 500 times, or seen by more than 5,000 users. Qin invented a story that the government gave 200m yuan (US$32m) in compensation to the family of a foreign passenger killed in a high-speed train crash in 2011 in order to incite hatred to the government which gave much lower compensation to Chinese nationals. The Chinese government did have policies in the past to give more compensations to foreigners than locals in disasters, though those policies have been phased out in recent years. Online rumours are particularly pervasive in China, where traditional media is heavily regulated by the government and public trust in the media is low."

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China oppresses free speech... (2)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | about 8 months ago | (#46728717)

...In related news, water is still wet. Back to you in the studio.

is libel or slander? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46728747)

either way, it's not protected by free speech, even in the US.

Re:is libel or slander? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46728983)

So when is Harry Reid going to jail for saying Romney hasn't paid taxes for 10 years?

Re:is libel or slander? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46729043)

And when is Rush Limbaugh going to jail for saying Barrack Obama is a muslim and wasnt born in the United States?

Re:is libel or slander? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46730965)

Since he didn't do that how does never sound? Is that good for you?

Re:is libel or slander? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46729063)

Probably at the same time Donald Trump does for spreading the birther nonsense against Obama.

Re:is libel or slander? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46729169)

America just drowns out the public with free bread and circus ala TV and so-called news which is really just a literal media monopoly.

Really, "lets focus on some poor girl being violently raped" which happens thousands of times a year in any big city instead of say, current-day politics or actual news or journalism about things that piss off some interesting if not controversial person.

The biggest problem with communication is the appearance it has been made.

Re:is libel or slander? (1)

cavreader (1903280) | about 8 months ago | (#46729739)

Why do you assume the American public is not capable of locating other media outlets across the world? Do you think you are some how smarter then everyone else? It's becoming harder everyday to get to the truth about anything. Media outlets with prejudicial and biased editorial lines publish nothing more than opinions which are usually derived from information taken out of context and purposely omitting any facts that would contradict the publishers predetermined stance. It's become a competition between those supporting opposite ends of any controversial issues and winning the argument is put ahead any facts that might force someone to re-examine their arguments.

Re:is libel or slander? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46729987)

Why do you assume the American public is not capable of locating other media outlets across the world?

Experience.

You are the most insular self-absorbed people on the planet. The only time you even deign to communicate with others it's to decry every criticism of your state as america-bashing wether legitimate or not. Everything every other news outlet on the planet says is "propaganda" while your own media is "biased" unless you happen to like the talking point they put out this week.

Re:is libel or slander? (0)

Desler (1608317) | about 8 months ago | (#46730289)

Why do you assume the American public is not capable of locating other media outlets across the world?

No need to assume anything. It's just simple reality.

Re:is libel or slander? (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 8 months ago | (#46731629)

Do you think you are some how smarter then everyone else?

No. We have to hunt for news while you've got it all in "megamarts" and most see no need to go beyond Fox or whatever news source they have because it seems to provide everything.
Even if I tune into one 24 hour radio station I get programs from four different partners around the world, and they announce who they are which makes me aware of where to look on the net for varied news sources. In a news "megamart" that doesn't happen - no perceived need to look elsewhere.

It's becoming harder everyday to get to the truth about anything. Media outlets with prejudicial and biased editorial lines

Yes - I saw a puff piece on Charles Manson from the History Channel FFS - they left out the chain of stupidity leading to some of his crimes to make him look like a flawless criminal mastermind. So much for it being a documentary.

It's become a competition between those supporting opposite ends of any controversial issues

Those millions spent on PR are clearly working. However it's spent locally so that's when the BBC or whatever becomes far more dependable than Fox when it's an issue where US PR money will be spent.

Typo (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 8 months ago | (#46731635)

24 hour news radio station

Re:is libel or slander? (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | about 8 months ago | (#46731155)

Nowadays, all you do is hear the media's description of what the candidate is saying, and one of the strange things about it is that politics is now presented in terms of politicians and not politics. I don't think the media is interested in politics, they're interested in politicians, which is a wholly different subject... who's doing this, about their private life, about their background, about what they must be thinking, might be thinking when they said something, why did they say it; but what they say is very, very hard to hear. And I think this is, in a sense, indeed quite deliberately, destroying the genuine democratic base on which people are elected.

-- Tony Benn (in "Orwell Rolls in his Grave", http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com] )

Re:is libel or slander? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 8 months ago | (#46732901)

ala TV and so-called news which is really just a literal media monopoly

Not even close. Though there is something of a monopsony with the US government providing news of US government activities and access to US government officials.

Re:is libel or slander? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46729377)

Have you proved he was lying?

That'll be especially hard since Harry Reid's quote was more like this:

"Saying he had "no problem with somebody being really, really wealthy," Reid sat up in his chair a bit before stirring the pot further. A month or so ago, he said, a person who had invested with Bain Capital called his office.

"Harry, he didn't pay any taxes for 10 years," Reid recounted the person as saying.

"He didn't pay taxes for 10 years! Now, do I know that that's true? Well, I'm not certain," said Reid. "But obviously he can't release those tax returns. How would it look?

"You guys have said his wealth is $250 million," Reid went on. "Not a chance in the world. It's a lot more than that. I mean, you do pretty well if you don't pay taxes for 10 years when you're making millions and millions of dollars."

Good luck proving nobody told Reid that.

Re:is libel or slander? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46729465)

He couched it all as a hypothetical...

which is, quite frankly, insidiously brilliant.

"Someone told me my opponent murders goats in satanic blood rituals. Now, I how do I know that's true? Well, I'm not certain. Obviously he would deny doing any such thing. Just watch his behavior, though. He pretends to be smooth and act like he's going to help you, but that's exactly what a satanist would do."

Re:is libel or slander? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46731873)

Yep, just like the Birther nonsense.

Play dirty with Harry Reid, he'll throw it right back at you.

You make sense.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46729005)

However the main caveat here would be whether something can automatically be labeled libel or slander. Those are jsut words whose truth relies on... well the truth.

Labeling something as simply untrue does not make it untrue.

I suppose it comes down to doubt it and come to your own conclusion.

Re:You make sense.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46732257)

There really isn't much to doubt or question here. It was a straight out set of lies, to be honest the lies were so outlandish I am surprised enough people believed them to cause any real issues. I guess just like America conspiracy theories no matter how insane will always find believers.

Re:is libel or slander? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46729193)

Actually in the US it practically is protected. It is incredibly difficult to win a defamation case in the US. It is one of the reasons why most famous cases are usually first brought up in the EU or against London papers. News corp owns just as many papers here. We are just more tolerant of letting through lies in the goal of preserving free speech and the free press. On the plus side we can call the Queen, PotUS, the Pope fat, without checking in to there medical records. And Google is pretty safe from what ever "angela merkel is " auto completes to. On the minuses side we have truthiness, polls, graphs and "facts".

Re:is libel or slander? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46729227)

In the US, the truth is an absolute defense. In the UK, it isn't, and even if one does tell the truth about someone, a subject is still liable both civilly and criminally for actions. Even in Canada, someone can wind up in jail for badmouthing someone.

Of course, the blowback of this is that the first thing people do in the US, if they don't like someone, is start defaming character, and those false accusations or allegations can be almost impossible to get rid of (think Richard Gere for example.)

Re:is libel or slander? (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 8 months ago | (#46729311)

Even in the US saying/writing something incorrect is still not libel/slander without proving malicious intent which is, as you mentioned, has a high bar. It's why the former Weekly World News, National Enquirer, etc. can get away with printing lots of nonsense.

Re:is libel or slander? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46731921)

You misunderstand freedom of speech. The purpose is not to decide what speech is "protected" and what isn't (all forms inherently are), but to ensure you may speak about anything without restriction. Of course, this doesn't mean you cannot be prosecuted for the consequences of what you say, the only necessary condition is that there is no regulation over what you are allowed to say.

Pay attention (2)

dbIII (701233) | about 8 months ago | (#46731573)

It could be an insight into your own future.

I heard a rumor that China's official media.... (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 8 months ago | (#46728729)

actually told the truth once.

Re:I heard a rumor that China's official media.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46728813)

The government censors quickly apologized and put safeguards in place to ensure it never happens again.

Re:I heard a rumor that China's official media.... (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 8 months ago | (#46728841)

Do you have sources, or is that just a rumor?

HAH! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46729027)

Schrodinger is right! Or isn't he?

I heard Wen Jiabao once shot a man in Reno... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46728805)

...just to watch him die!

Re:I heard Wen Jiabao once shot a man in Reno... (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 8 months ago | (#46729047)

I could have sworn that was a guy named Cash.

This is what Republicans want for the US (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46728839)

Just look at the web loggers they have inprisoned. Too bad they rule Washington so Obama can't do anything about it.

Twitter Users (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46728873)

Imagine if Twitter users were prosecuted for mindlessly propagating lies. There would be very few people left.

So... (1)

grub (11606) | about 8 months ago | (#46728883)


... it's kind of like a Chinese Snopes, except you go to jail rather than being unfriended.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46728943)

Naw, you wake up in pieces, Larry Niven style, because the organs are valuable.

In other news... (1)

ThatsDrDangerToYou (3480047) | about 8 months ago | (#46728977)

My penis is 3 feet long.

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46729031)

Measure with your hands perv.

Re:In other news... (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 8 months ago | (#46729073)

Embryo or adult feet?

Re: In other news.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46730841)

Measuring from the head...

Re: In other news.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46743421)

I suspect you didn't think that through...

Why lie? (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 8 months ago | (#46729385)

The Chinese government does enough shitty stuff for real.

Re:Why lie? (1)

swaq (989895) | about 8 months ago | (#46729991)

Perhaps even if it was true the government would still claim it was a lie?

Re:Why lie? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 8 months ago | (#46732939)

It may not have been a lie. Sometimes people say things that turn out false. When they deliberately say falsehoods, then that's lying. And who knows, this might have actually happened and the guy is telling the truth.

Re:Why lie? (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 8 months ago | (#46734949)

This one is too easy to check. You ask a Chinese victim and a foreign victim how much they got paid. I also noticed that the Guardian piece did not weigh in on whether or not he lied. I would think that the reporter would check something like that.

Re:Why lie? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 8 months ago | (#46736335)

You ask a Chinese victim and a foreign victim how much they got paid.

The victims would be dead. You're not going to get very far with that approach. It also probably is illegal for the families of Chinese victims (should you happen to find them somehow) to give you that information. If not, the bureaucracy can always make it illegal whenever they feel like it.

Re:Why lie? (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 8 months ago | (#46736741)

It also probably is illegal for the families of Chinese victims (should you happen to find them somehow) to give you that information.

Yet more baseless accusations. If you know it is illegal then prove it. Otherwise you are just spreading a rumor.

If not, the bureaucracy can always make it illegal whenever they feel like it.

Who cares what they can do. It is what they do is important.

Re:Why lie? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 8 months ago | (#46738373)

China is a nation of men not laws. Their government can make illegal whatever they feel like. And they're pretty good at hiding whatever they want to hide.

Who cares what they can do. It is what they do is important.

Because what they can do is the primary constraint on what they actually do.

The fourtuine cookie (1)

delta98 (619010) | about 8 months ago | (#46729479)

was a lie?

A source told me he was a CIA asset (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | about 8 months ago | (#46729643)

developed by agent Annie Walker.

Libel has been around as long as the written word. (1)

pigiron (104729) | about 8 months ago | (#46729669)

Why is this news?

Re:Libel has been around as long as the written wo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46730581)

Because anyone with half a brain realizes that the guy was forced to say this by the dictatorial government.

Re:Libel has been around as long as the written wo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46730973)

At least he got a trial, unlike in certain other countries...

Here is how you do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46730353)

Blah, ughh roflcopternomomom has O_O, a wooden leg, and hates old people, or does he?

My Coke is safe to drink now? (1)

fleabay (876971) | about 8 months ago | (#46734193)

Cause the pee-pee was a lie.
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